Michael Lopez-Loreto, 22, of Tucson, Arizona, was sentenced last week by United States District Judge Rosemary Márquez to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. On February 9, 2023, Lopez-Loreto pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens for Profit Placing in Jeopardy the Life of Any Person.
On January 17, 2023, Lopez-Loreto was encountered by United States Border Patrol agents after a property owner reported a vehicle on their property. Agents subsequently observed individuals run from the desert and enter that vehicle that was being driven by Lopez-Loreto. Lopez-Loreto then drove toward an area where the roadway was blocked by agents.
Lopez-Loreto was forced to slow to a near stop due to the obstruction. At that time, an agent activated his emergency equipment; however, Lopez-Loreto sped up and maneuvered around agents and their patrol vehicles to evade apprehension. As he sped away, Lopez-Loreto narrowly missed striking agents who were standing outside their vehicles.
Agents pursued Lopez-Loreto and deployed spike strips to stop his vehicle. Lopez-Loreto swerved around one set of spike strips, attempted to avoid a second set by driving into an oncoming lane, and then crashed into water barriers, rolling the vehicle.
The two passengers in Lopez-Loreto’s vehicle suffered injuries in the crash and were transported to the hospital for treatment. Both were determined to be undocumented non-citizens who Lopez-Loreto was smuggling further into the country at the time of this incident.
Customs and Border Protection’s United States Border Patrol conducted the investigation in this case. The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.