PHOENIX (Reuters) - The Mexican driver of a vehicle that flipped on an Arizona highway, killing nine illegal immigrants, has been charged by a federal grand jury and could face the death penalty if convicted, authorities said on Wednesday.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Phoenix said Brian Guzman-Ochoa faced six charges stemming from the crash on August 7, in which a sport utility vehicle crammed with 19 illegal immigrants ran off a highway southeast of Phoenix, killing nine people and injuring 10 others.
The charges include transportation of illegal aliens resulting in death, bringing in illegal aliens and reentry after deportation, the office said in a news release.
If convicted of the most serious charge, Guzman-Ochoa faces a maximum penalty of life in prison or the death penalty, and a possible $250,000 fine.
Arizona straddles the busiest human and drug smuggling corridor into the United States from Mexico.
Two years ago, 10 people were killed when an SUV packed with illegal immigrants overturned on a desert road near Yuma in western Arizona.
Reporting by Tim Gaynor, editing by Todd Eastham