Pilot in Presidio plane smuggling crash pleads not guilty 

PRESIDIO — Tobias Penner Peters, the pilot who crashed a plane outside of Presidio in December, pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony human smuggling on April 25. Peters was not present at the courthouse in Pecos to deliver his plea, having waived a right of personal appearance.

On December 30, 2021, Peters fled the scene of the plane crash that left five undocumented passengers injured — one of the migrants’ injuries were so severe that they had to be lifeflighted to the hospital. He remained at large for several months, and was finally arrested by the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office at the Presidio Port of Entry on March 25. 

Due to the severity of the injuries sustained by the migrants onboard, Peters’ initial charge of felony “conspiracy to transport illegal aliens” was enhanced to include a second charge, “transportation of illegal aliens causing serious bodily injury.” He was released on $100,000 bond, with conditions of release limiting his travel to within the state of Texas, forbidding travel to Mexico, and setting a curfew at his primary residence in Seminole. 

A hearing is set for May 20 in Alpine at 9:30 a.m. before Judge David Fannin. Peters has retained two lawyers: Antonio Rodriguez of Presidio and Monty Kimball of Alpine, both of whom declined to comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, headquartered in San Antonio, did not return a request for comment by press time.