A man who pleaded guilty to helping smuggle two Mexican nationals across the U.S.-Mexico border in the trunk of a car, leading to their deaths, was sentenced to 12 months in custody for the crime
Pedro Velasco-Manzano, 44, a citizen of Mexico, previously admitted to helping arrange the smuggling of two Mexican citizens, Casas-Blanco and Jose Aurelio Quiroz-Casas, who suffocated in the trunk of Nicholas Zakov's car while he tried to smuggle them across the U.S.-Mexico border at San Ysidro in August 2014 for a fee of $11,500.
Velasco-Manzano arranged for the two victims to be housing in Tijuana until plans to smuggle them across the border could be finalized, according to his plea agreement.
He then took them from the stash house to the smugglers: Zakov and Eduard Ervemac Saavedra.
The men smuggled the victims into the U.S. across the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Aug. 12, 2014, for the prospect of a $3,500 payout.
Saavedra admitted to arranging for the victims to be hidden in the trunk of Zakov's Dodge Challenger in Tijuana. He then directed Zakov to drive through the San Ysidro Port of Entry with the two victims in the trunk, where temperatures were rising amid little ventilation.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers later found the victims unresponsive in the trunk. Despite medical attention, the two victims died of hyperthermia and mechanical asphyxiation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Zakov was previously sentenced to 84 months in prison. Saavedra was previously sentenced to 63 months in prison.