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Alleged smuggler charged with migrant’s death

YCSO said they found the body of a 40-year-old Ecuadorian migrant in Yuma County's desert on September 6

WELLTON, Ariz. (KECY, KYMA) - 34-year-old Efrain Leyvas-Alvarez now faces three felonies, one is 2nd-degree murder, plus two counts of endangerment.

As Yuma County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) said he caused the death of a migrant last September by leaving him in the desert just south of Mohawk and Interstate 8.

Appearing virtually in Wellton Justice Court, Judge Russ Jones read Leyvas-Alvarez all of his charges.

Saying his alleged actions were reckless.

“The defendant, Efrain Leyvas-Alvarez, under circumstances manifesting in extreme indifference to human life, did engage in conduct that creates a great risk of death,” Jones said.

According to YCSO, in September of 2022, a migrant called 911 after not being able to continue walking through the desert.

After being arrested by Border Patrol, the migrant claimed Leyvas-Alvarez was his group’s smuggler.

And told the arresting agents another migrant in their group had walked off with Leyvas-Alvarez but didn’t return.

YCSO's search and rescue team then went to the area and found a 40-year-old Ecuadorian migrant dead.

Approximate location of where YCSO deputies found the dead migrant allegedly left behind by Leyvas-Alvarez.

The 49th migrant death in Yuma County in 2022, according to a report from the YCSO medical examiner.

YCSO said they believe Leyvas-Alvarez fled back to Mexico following the alleged incident.

But on Monday, he was arrested by the Border Patrol for illegally entering the United States, and YCSO investigators spoke with Leyvas-Alvarez face to face.

“After the suspect was interviewed by Yuma County Sheriff’s Office Investigation Bureau, they were able to charge and arrest him on homicide,” YCSO Public Information Officer Tania Pavlak said.

He's being held on a $1 million cash bond and is scheduled to appear back in court later this month.

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Adam Klepp

Adam Klepp is excited to start his first job in the broadcast news industry as the FOX9 at 9 anchor and as a reporter at 5 and 6 on News 11.

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