Police of La Joya arrested a 31-year-old man last week who they claim is affiliated with a cartel and helped smuggle and harbor people after the driver became involved in a fatal reversal at the end of June talked to the police.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Ivan “El Muñeco” Rios, who was in communication with the 24-year-old driver of the fatal rollover, Alexis Hernandez Pino. Rios reportedly told Pino to flee the scene after the knockdown.
Rios was charged with three counts of murder and three counts of human trafficking resulting in grievous bodily harm or death.
Jail records show Pino was charged with two counts of murder, three counts of human trafficking causing grievous bodily harm or death and several other counts including aggravated assault with a weapon deadly.
According to the criminal complaint, Pino was questioned after the third victim of the knockdown died from his injuries and explained that Rios was his boss and had been living with him for a few months.
Pino added that he was a “coyote” or guide to Mexico.
Pino told investigators that Rios ordered him to run from law enforcement and head to an area of thick brush and orchards near his residence at 9103 Abram Road.
Prior to the accident, Pino said, Rios was driving a red 2016 Mercedes and told him the pick-up location for the three victims was free of law enforcement on the day of the incident.
But an unmarked police vehicle patrolling an area near FM 2221 noticed a suspicious green Ford Expedition slowly coming to a stop just north of Allan Romo Street.
“Officers then noticed several subjects crossing FM 2221 and entering the green expedition,” the document said.
A vehicle chase ensued and ended around the 8-mile line after Pino, who was speeding, lost control of the vehicle as he was heading north on Abram Road and came to a part of the street that was not paved.
One victim was pronounced dead at the scene and two others died later from their injuries.
During the interview with Pino, he told police the red Mercedes was registered to Rios’ wife and identified his boss from a series of photos provided to him on the day of his statement.
Police executed an arrest warrant for Rios last Friday in the early hours of the morning. Rios attempted to evade the police on foot and headed south on Abram Road.
He was later detained in a canal near his residence as he attempted to hide from law enforcement. He was taken into custody and transported to the La Joya Police Department, pending arraignment.
According to prison records, Rios remains jailed for $3 million in bonds, while Pino remains jailed for $2.75 million.
Mission man charged with 3 counts of murder in fatal migrant smuggling accident
A third migrant dies in the fatal accident of La Joya