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Four Texans Sentenced in Deaths of Five Aliens on Train

May 16, 1990

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ Four Texans arrested in the deaths of five would-be immigrants in a fumigated railroad car last year were sentenced in federal court Tuesday.

Five people from Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador died last October after being locked inside a trailer that was loaded onto a train and filled with fumigated tortilla flour. The flour had been treated with Phostoxin, a poisonous insecticide.

The defendants, all from Victoria, asked U.S. District Judge Filemon Vela for mercy Tuesday, saying their families need them. They originally were indicted on alien smuggling charges, but later pleaded guilty to lesser offenses in plea-bargain agreements.

Vela sentenced Magdaleno Arcos Soriano, 34, to 18 months in prison, to be served when he finishes a 14-month sentence handed down Nov. 3, 1989, in connection with another alien smuggling case.

The judge handed a 16-month sentence to Eleutorio Amaya Torres, 35, who received probation in connection with the same previous smuggling case.

Vela sentenced Amaya’s wife, Jane Amaya, 39, to six months.

″I need an opportunity. I’m very sorry for what happened. ... My kids need me,″ the woman told the judge.

Mary Ann Martinez, 24, was given three years’ probation.

The Amayas and Arcos Soriano were indicted Jan. 23 on 13 counts of alien smuggling and witness tampering.

Ms. Martinez was named in six counts for alien smuggling. She pleaded guilty to misprision, or knowing that a crime was taking place and failing to report it to authorities.

Eleutorio Amaya Torres pleaded guilty to one count of witness tampering, as did Arcos Soriano. Jane Amaya pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to smuggle aliens.

Upon questioning from U.S. District Judge Filemon Vela, Assistant U.S. Attorney John G. Crews said he had no proof that the four people actually had put the aliens in the trailer.

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