Driver charged with human smuggling in Glenwood
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Police charged a man who crashed a van on Interstate 70 Sunday with three counts of human smuggling.
It’s the first time the Glenwood Springs Police Department has charged anyone under the human smuggling statute, a class three felony. Police Chief Terry Wilson said police made the determination to charge the driver, Alvaro Sales Jacinto, 28, with the human smuggling counts Monday night.
“There is the potential for further charges as this case develops,” Wilson said.
Sales Jacinto was jailed Sunday after the accident on suspicion of careless driving, driving without a valid license and failure to provide immediate proof of insurance. He is under an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.
The van was traveling eastbound on I-70 when it crashed around 7:43 a.m. The accident blocked both westbound lanes for about an hour.
“It apparently caught some slush on the shoulder of the road, skidded broadside, hit the median, flipped, and wound up on its top all the way in the westbound lanes,” Wilson said.
About 10 Hispanic males were sent to the hospital. Two were in critical condition Monday, according to Wilson, but hospital confidentiality laws make it unclear how the men are doing.
The state created the human smuggling law in 2006 to target people transporting illegal immigrants for profit. Wilson and Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said it’s a tool local agencies can use against smuggling, but it doesn’t give them the legal authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
They say Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is typically notified when local authorities contact suspected illegal immigrants. Vallario said his deputies could probably stop vans full of illegal immigrants every day, but there aren’t enough federal immigration agents or facilities to handle them.