Things That Matter

Couple Livestream High-Speed Chase After Trying To Smuggle Group Of Undocumented Men

There are organizations throughout the country that serve the undocumented community. In fact, there are some organizations based around the border that are there specifically to help undocumented people as they make their way across the tough terrain. Those groups such as No More Deaths assist by making the journey not as painful or draining by leaving food and water. They certainly don’t drive them across the border. That kind of job is typically done by coyotes — people who get paid to smuggle undocumented people across the border. All of these people are in danger of getting arrested and have been arrested for doing this kind of work. This latest story, however, is unlike anything we have ever seen. 

Last week, in Laredo, Texas, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested two people after they led police on a high-speed chase while they were transporting a group of undocumented men — and they documented the whole thing via Facebook Live.

Credit: CAMERA PHOBIA / YouTube

Alejandro Vela, 22, and Karyme Espinoza, 19, from Texas, captured their high-speed chase on Facebook Live as they drove trying to evade police while driving with a group of undocumented men in the back of their 2010 Mercedes Benz. 

Vela was driving the car and Espinoza was recording on Facebook Live. She didn’t look stressed about the situation and actually didn’t seem bothered at all that the police were chasing them. In fact, she seemed to be happy about it.

Credit: CAMERA PHOBIA / YouTube

“Hey, I’m live on Facebook,” Espinoza said jokingly. “I need you to do me a favor without telling anybody,” she said. “Immigration is on my ass because I have ten guys with me.” She added “we are currently going 160 (mph),” she said. The male is then heard talking to someone on the phone. He tells them if they can open the gate and then close it behind them so they “lose them.” 

According to the New York Post, when the CBP eventually caught up with them the driver and passenger fled by foot again. They were caught in the end and arrested. 

Credit: @aintnobarbie / Twitter

The News & Observer report that Vela (the driver) was charged with “evading arrest, unlawful transport of a person and reckless driving.” The female (the passenger) “was charged with unlawful transport of a person and evading arrest on foot.”

 “This is one of the first times I do see one of the persons actually engaged in the crime actually live-streaming it,”  Texas Department of Public Safety’s Sergeant Eric Estrada said in an interview with KGNS News. “We would never think that someone would want to incriminate themselves by live-streaming the crime they are actually committing.”

Here’s the entire 10-minute video, but you may need a barf bag because you will get dizzy.

This almost looks as if it could be the plot of the movie. But we can’t help but feel bad for the undocumented people in their car. Crossing the border illegally is always a risk, but entrusting people who are willfully behaving erratically. 

This week as well, another couple was arrested for smuggling undocumented people in San Diego. That couple also led the CBP in a high-speed chase.

Credit: Unsplash

In this case, the 30-year-old driver and his 34-year-old female front passenger attempted to smuggle a large group of undocumented people and also had some in the trunk. 

According to the CBP, they suspected the couple had undocumented people in their car after they saw several people going into their car and then headed westbound towards Chula Vista. 

The CBP report that “agents turned on their emergency lights and siren to initiate a vehicle stop. The driver refused to stop and fled at a high rate of speed into a neighborhood near Proctor Valley Road.”

CBP verified they were going extremely fast. “Before agents could approach the vehicle, the driver sped off to State Highway 125, at times going in excess of 100 miles per hour,” they reported. “He continued northbound, exited, then drove westbound on Jamacha Road. The driver continued to drive erratically and, at one point, tried to run an agent’s vehicle off the road. The chase came to an end at Darby Street in Spring Valley, when the driver crashed into a parked car.”

“This is another example of the dangerous acts human smugglers perform every day for financial gain and how they show no regard for the lives of those involved,” Chief Patrol Agent Douglas E. Harrison said in a press release. “Fortunately, this chase came to a safe conclusion and ended with the driver and co-principal in custody.”

READ: A City Claims A Family Can’t Sue Over A Wrongful Death Because Undocumented People Don’t Have Rights Under Constitution

This LA Sheriff’s Deputy Was Just Arrested For Insurance Fraud And Filing A False Police Report

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This LA Sheriff’s Deputy Was Just Arrested For Insurance Fraud And Filing A False Police Report

NYT / Twitter

At the beginning of 2019, Empire actor Jussie Smollett famously reported that he had been the victim of a hate crime. About three weeks later, Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report—it had been discovered that the attack was staged, and that Smollett himself had planned the whole thing. Although the charges against Smollett were dropped, he was all over headlines last year, earning a national reputation as a liar and ultimately being fired from his role on Empire.

In August of 2019, a similar situation arose within the Los Angeles Police Department, when a sheriff’s deputy falsely claimed that he was shot by a sniper outside the Lancaster police station. After days of searching for the alleged gunman, it became clear that Angel Reinosa had fabricated his story. He had not been shot, after all—instead, he had used a knife to create fake bullet wounds in his uniform, asserting that his bulletproof vest had saved his life.

“There were many things that didn’t add up,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener. No bullets had been recovered from the scene, and they had no leads on a suspect—they searched a nearby apartment building, assuming that the shooter was inside, but of course they found nothing.

But this didn’t exactly surprise investigators and colleagues, who were suspicious of Reinosa’s story from the very beginning. A number of sheriff’s officials told the LA Times that “his radio call about the incident was too calm even for a veteran, a hole in his shirt too big for the minor wound he claimed to have suffered.”

The LA Times also reported that by the end of the day that Reinosa made the report, the search for the suspected gunman had been halted. Homicide detectives, assisted by forensic experts, instead turned their attention to Reinosa. And by 9:30 PM, Reinosa’s involvement in the case was considered highly suspect. Not long after, he admitted to the police that he had fabricated the incident, though he didn’t reveal his motives for doing so.

In the case of Jussie Smollett, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a press conference that the motive for feigning the hate crime was fiscal in nature. He claimed that “Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career, because he was dissatisfied with his salary.” Folks have speculated that Reinosa’s situation was rather similar—it had to do with a certain dissatisfaction at work.

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said that sheriff’s officials had divulged details about Reinosa’s difficulties with his first year in the field. Typically, the first year constitutes a probationary training period that all deputies must complete before becoming deputies, and Reinosa was struggling to keep up.

“He was not advancing through the training program at an adequate pace,” Parris said. “There had been a lot of attention on him.”

And just a few days ago, Reinosa was taken into police custody when he was served an arrest warrant during a traffic stop. He was arrested for insurance fraud and for filing a false police report, and he was transferred to Los Angeles County Jail. His bail was set at $40,000, and unlike Smollett, Reinosa was not able to immediately settle his case with a payment.

Authorities say that the charges of insurance fraud are related to the workers comp claims Reinosa made after the incident. If he is convicted of these charges, he could face up to five and a half years in county jail.

As soon as authorities discovered that the shooting had been a hoax, they called an 11 PM press conference to address the situation. In an interview, Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed the desire to ensure that Reinosa’s actions were met with what they deemed the appropriate legal response.

“We are all appalled and disappointed. We took the deputy at his word at first,” Villanueva said. “We intend to hold the individual responsible for breaking the law and most importantly for betraying the community.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by authorities in Smollett’s case, as well as Smollett’s fellow Empire cast members. Lee Daniels, the creator of Empire, referred to the “pain and anger and sadness and frustration” that he and his cast endured, adding that he and his team “really [didn’t] know how to deal with it.”

He also said that Empire “was made to bring America together” and to “talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets”—a message that was in direct contrast with Smollett’s actions.

The Lancaster sheriff’s website expressed a similar sense of disappointment, yet also emphasized the importance of community in situations like these:

“We are saddened by the outcome of the investigation, but are so grateful to our community for their cooperation on Wednesday and your ongoing support everyday. The actions of one individual are not indicative of who Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Deputies are.”

Guatemala’s President Is Going To Have To Settle The Immigration Negotiation With Trump

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Guatemala’s President Is Going To Have To Settle The Immigration Negotiation With Trump

dr.giammattei / Instagram

Tuesday marked a new era of leadership in Guatemala as the Latin country swore in Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative doctor and former prison system director from the right-wing Vamos party. The 63-year-old won the presidency on his fourth attempt back in August with bold promises of changing a corrupt government and restoring the rule-of-law in city streets. 

“Today, we are putting a full stop on corrupt practices so they disappear from the face of this country,” Giammattei said at his swearing-in ceremony that had a five-hour delay.

His ceremony somewhat overshadowed by delays and protests against ex-President Jimmy Morales, who for four years dodged accusations of corruption. The scene of protestors throwing eggs and voicing anger at the outgoing administration was a reminder of the displeasure against the country’s deep-seated political corruption. It’s also a key reason why many are looking to Giammattei to bring change to the struggling country. 

As Giammattei takes office, there are questions on what his presidency will mean to Guatemala in the short and long term as issues over the future of an asylum deal with the United States comes into focus. 

One of the biggest issues confronting Guatemala and one that Giammattei will have to address early is the Asylum Cooperation Agreement (ACA) that was signed by Morales last July with the U.S. government. The agreement, which was highly opposed in Guatemala, lets U.S. immigration officials send Honduran and Salvadoran migrants that are requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border to apply for protection here instead. There is now increasing skepticism as reports say that the U.S. wants to expand the deal to include Mexican asylum seekers as well.

Last year, there were many Guatemalans that were part of a 3,000 migrant caravan that made its way up from Latin America to the U.S. The caravan consisted of people that were looking to claim asylum and became a symbol of the growing migration crisis at the southern border. President Trump frequently attacked the caravan and eventually threatened to impose tariffs on Guatemala if it didn’t agree to the asylum deal.

According to the Guatemalan Migration Institute, “as of Friday, 128 Salvadoran and Honduran asylum seekers had been sent as part of the agreement,” with only a limited number actually applying for asylum there and others returning home. Giammattei has previously said that he’s willing to make changes to the agreement but on Tuesday said he would revisit details later. 

The country, one of Latin America’s poorest nations, is a key part of President Trump’s plan to curb illegal immigration and asylum claims. mostly from those coming to the U.S. Southern border. The issue for many living in Guatemala is how to let those seeking asylum when itself has become a major source of U.S. bound migrants. 

Poverty levels have only grown in the last 20 years and income inequality levels continue to be a big problem in the country. 

One of the big platform issues that Giammattei ran his campaign on was helping the shorten income inequality gap and poverty levels that have only grown in the last 20 years. Fifty-nine percent of Guatemalan citizens live below the poverty line and almost 1 million children under the age of 5 are believed to live with chronic malnutrition, according to the AP. 

There is also the rampant problem of street violence and cartel gangs that have had a major effect on the daily lives of many in the country. Giammattei plans to address this with reforms that include designating “street gangs as terrorist groups.”

“This is the moment to rescue Guatemala from the absurd. It is the moment to combat corruption and malnutrition,” Giammattei said on Tuesday in his first address to the country as president. “There is no peace without security, I will present a law that aims to declare street gangs for what they are – terrorist groups.”

There is hope that Giammattei will turn a new page in Guatemala that will see change come to all in the country that has faced uncertainty for years. But only time will tell if this is indeed new leadership or business as usual.

“We will bring back the peace this country so dearly needs,” Giammattei said. “We will govern with decency, with honourability, and with ethical values.”

READ: In Efforts To Double Latino Representation In Hollywood, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Unveils New Historic Initiative