A 31-year-old Guatemalan man who crashed an SUV in the Four Corners area, killing eight of 13 illegal immigrants inside, has been sentenced to four years in federal prison.
Rigoberto Salas-Lopez, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell, who also ordered that Salas-Lopez be deported after serving the prison term.
The U.S. Attorney's Office had requested a tougher sentence of six years in prison.
"We felt it was appropriate given the number of deaths, but we accept the sentence that Judge Campbell issued," said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Salas-Lopez said he had been paid $1,000 by a man in Phoenix to drive a Chevy Suburban carrying people who were trying to get into the United States illegally from Mexico and Guatemala.
While he was at the wheel on April 16, 2007, Salas-Lopez crashed the SUV, which rolled and killed eight people and injured several others. The cause of the crash has been variously attributed Salas-Lopez suddenly swerving to avoid a horse to other accounts that he was fondling a female while driving.
After the accident, he ran off into the desert, but police tracked him down over 10 miles away and took him into custody.