A truck driver has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens after fleeing a border checkpoint and crashing a tractor-trailer with 63 foreign nationals inside, authorities say.
Leonidas Navarro, 30, of Zapata, Texas, reportedly entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court on Monday and now faces up to 10 years in prison for his role in the large human smuggling operation.
On January 21, Navarro “drove a semi-truck and trailer combination through the Laredo North Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 35. Upon inspection, a K-9 alerted to the presence of contraband in the trailer. Navarro also could not provide a bill of lading for the goods he was supposedly transporting. He was then referred to secondary inspection,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reports, citing court documents.
“Instead of complying with the officer’s direction, Navarro increased his speed and drove through a fence and into a field before he ultimately crashed. He jumped out of the truck and attempted to flee but was soon captured. Authorities found a total of 63 illegal aliens that had been hidden inside the truck.”
None of the passengers were severely injured in the crash.
Navarro remains in custody while he awaits sentencing.
Tractor-trailers are frequently used by human traffickers.
Between March 21 and May 15, agents in just two Border Patrol sectors stopped 28 big rigs loaded with more than 492 illegal aliens, and many more have been encountered in the weeks since.
Smugglers continue to treat migrants like commodities. Since March 21, we’ve seen 28 smuggling cases involving tractor-trailers in RGV & Laredo Sectors. These trips endanger the health and safety of the migrants, CBP agents & officers, and the public. https://t.co/0J0pdFZlxh pic.twitter.com/zndoYYZPa6
— Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan (@CBPMarkMorgan) May 19, 2020
Thirteen illegal aliens were discovered hiding beneath hay bales in a truck driven by a Mexican citizen on Monday.
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