FALLS CHURCH, VA (WUSA9) - It was a death trap on wheels. One of the people who died in the truck found crammed with immigrants being smuggled into the United States was Frank Fuentes, 19, who grew up in Falls Church, Va.
He was brought to U.S. as a toddler from Guatemala in 2000, according to ICE. He is a 2015 graduate of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, according to Fairfax County School officials.
"He was a great friend," said Chelsea Luna, 20.
She says they met each other as freshman at Stuart, sitting next to each other in several classes.
"He was smart. He was always the first to raise his hand," she said. "And he would always be there for you if you needed it, loving. I'll never forget that about him."
In July of 2016, ICE deportation officers arrested Fuentes and in February 2017, an immigration judge issued him a final order of removal. He was deported in March of 2017.
His deportation may have stemmed from serious crimes he allegedly committed. In March 2016, Fuentes pleaded guilty to simple assault and battery by mob and grand larceny pick pocketing.
Luna doesn't believe Fuentes committed the crimes; she thinks they got the wrong guy and that it was a mistake. She also says he was not in a gang.
"Not Frank. He was never part of any gang," she said. "I've seen him every day here. There's not a day I go without seeing him. He's not in a gang."
She says she talked to Fuentes last Thursday when he told her he was planning to sneak back into the country with the help of a 'coyote' smuggler. She says he had no idea how dangerous the journey would be.
Fuentes had been granted deferred action from deportation under Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but it expired in June 2016. Officials say deferred action to depart may be revoked by DHS at any time.
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