QUITO – A people smuggler convicted of organizing the trip to Mexico by Fredy Lala Pomavilla, a survivor of the 2010 massacre of 72 migrants at a ranch near the U.S. border, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in Ecuador, the Attorney General’s Office said.
Jose Arcesio Vasquez Marin, who still has another court case pending for the same crime, also must pay an $8,790 fine and another still-undetermined sum for damages.
The court in the central Ecuadorian province of Cañar sentenced Vasquez Marin to 12 years for people smuggling with the aggravated circumstance of “physical and psychological injury caused” to the Ecuadorian migrant.
Lala Pomavilla, his wife, his father, a Judicial Police officer and a doctor all testified in court against Vasquez even though the Interior Ministry said some of the witnesses had received death threats from the defendant.
The massacre occurred at a ranch in the northern Mexican municipality of San Fernando in August 2010, when a large group of migrants were abducted from buses and shot execution-style.
Lala Pomavilla was badly wounded but managed to escape and alert the Mexican authorities, who subsequently found the bodies of migrants from Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The survivor said members of the Los Zetas drug cartel, considered Mexico’s most violent criminal organization, killed the migrants after they refused to work for the gang.
He and his family have been placed in a witness-protection program.
In the Oct. 9 trial, Dr. Miguel Mendez testified that Lala Pomavilla was shot in the neck and right cheekbone and suffered permanent psychological damage.
Prosecutors submitted as evidence a list of calls made from Vasquez Marin’s cellphone, bank deposits and records of the migratory trail of Lala Pomavilla and his father.
Vasquez Marin had been a fugitive from March 2011, when charges were filed against him, until Aug. 1 of this year, when he was arrested in the southwestern Ecuadorian province of El Oro.
He is being held at a maximum-security facility in Guayaquil. EFE