Mexican Trucker Convicted of Smuggling 83 People Into U.S.
Laredo, TX – A trucker was convicted last week in connection with a large human smuggling bust the took place in Laredo in January.
On Thursday, August 20, Francisco Heredia-Sanchez was found guilty in U.S. District Court of conspiracy to transport immigrants within the United States, and transport and attempt to transport the immigrants for financial gain.
Court documents obtained by Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reveal the incident took place just after 6 a.m. on January 26 at the Interstate 35 checkpoint.
Officials say Heredia-Sanchez, who is described as a man in his “late forties” and a holder of a Mexican visa, was driving a blue tractor hauling a white trailer when a K-9 alerted to the rig.
At a secondary inspection, agents from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) removed the trailer’s seal and located dozens of individuals inside, all found to be illegally present in the United States.
Authorities said out of the 83 subjects inside the trailer, 14 were juveniles.
Ten of the juveniles were traveling unaccompanied, according to CBP.
Heredia-Sanchez waived his rights and spoke to officers at the scene.
He told officials he had not had work in the previous four months, aside from occasionally working at his cousin’s market (bodega) in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
Heredia-Sanchez claimed an unidentified friend had given him the name of a man “for work.”
Court documents state Heredia-Sanchez contacted the man and was told the “original driver” of the tractor-trailer was unavailable and needed “someone to pick up a tractor early Monday.”
According to Heredia-Sanchez, the man — who was also unidentified in court documents — “picked him up and dropped him off” near a Walmart, located on Loop 20 in Laredo.
The man allegedly told Heredia-Sanchez there were auto parts inside the sealed trailer.
Heredia-Sanchez claimed he asked the man where the paperwork was and was told it was inside the tractor.
Despite being unable to locate the paperwork, Heredia-Sanchez said he began driving as instructed.
He claimed he was being paid 42 cents per mile and was to drive to San Antonio.
He told authorities he did not know an exact address and was told he would be contacted via cell phone at a later time with a precise location.
According to Heredia-Sanchez, he “has experience in transportation.”
Court documents did not specify if “experience” meant driving experience or if he was a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder.
Authorities located two cell phones on Heredia-Sanchez’s body at the scene and located one other inside the tractor.
Heredia-Sanchez claimed all three as his.
Additionally, officials located $913 US as well as $26,520 pesos (approximately $1,200 US), which Heredia-Sanchez also claimed as his.
Multiple individuals located within the trailer also spoke to authorities at the scene and told officials they had illegally crossed into the country via the Rio Grande River at various times and for various amounts of money.
They were to be transported to multiple, unnamed cities within the U.S., they claimed.
Heredia-Sanchez’s sentencing date is pending.