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Douglas man sentenced for 2nd time in illegal transportation of migrants

Border wall east of Douglas, Arizona
Jerry Glaser/U.S. Customs and Border Protection
The border wall east of Douglas, Arizona, on Dec. 14, 2020

A 27-year-old man from Douglas has been sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison for illegal transportation of undocumented noncitizens and the death of a passenger near the Mexico border in 2020.

Manuel Victor Gastelum pleaded guilty in January to the 2020 incident. According to the U.S. attorney, Gastelum picked up eight undocumented noncitizens near the border, and later began driving recklessly, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.

Another male passenger was ejected from the vehicle, and was later pronounced dead at the scene. Gastelum fled on foot, and was apprehended several miles away later that morning.

Gastelum had been previously convicted for a similar offense in 2019, when he also fled from law enforcement. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and three years of supervised release, which he violated by committing the new offense.

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Keller Brown is an intern at KJZZ. He is currently a graduate student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, working toward a master's in sports journalism.