SAN DIEGO – An alien smuggler whose crash while speeding away from Border Patrol last year resulted in the deaths of two of her customers was sentenced today in federal court to eight years in prison.
Lydiana Castro, of Calexico, California, pleaded guilty in July of 2016, admitting that on March 23, 2016, she picked up five undocumented aliens at a gas station in an area known as “Pilot’s Knob,” a mountainous area near Andrade, California. Approximately five minutes later, U.S. Border Patrol agents, who saw Castro picking up the undocumented aliens, activated their lights and sirens in an attempt to conduct a vehicle stop.
Castro admitted in her plea agreement that she saw Border Patrol and started to slow down as if to pull over but decided suddenly to take off. But she accelerated, driving off of the Andrade Road freeway entrance and onto an embankment. Her vehicle fishtailed and continued toward Interstate 8 while careening down the embankment. Castro drove onto the westbound lane of Interstate 8 and struck a passing semi-truck. The defendant’s vehicle became entangled with the semi-truck and was dragged along with the semi-truck until it stopped on the side of the Interstate.
U.S. Border Patrol and first responders arrived to the crash site to find one man hanging face down through the vehicle’s rear window and four other men seated in the second and third rows of the vehicle’s backseats in varying levels of traumatic medical conditions and non-responsive states. Two of the individuals in the vehicle were later pronounced dead at the scene. The remaining passengers were transported to a trauma hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. Of the three surviving passengers, one was deemed brain dead and was transported on life support back to Mexico at the family’s request; one permanently lost the use of both of his legs; and the third continues to live with the challenges of his injuries.