Trucker Charged With Human Smuggling Says He Thought He Was Hauling Potato Chips
Laredo, TX — A trucker charged with human smuggling says he believed he was hauling potato chips when U.S. border officials discovered dozens of illegal migrants inside his tractor-trailer.
Truck driver Jonathan Richard Lemmons was arrested on November 23 at the immigration inspection checkpoint on Interstate 35.
According to an affidavit first reported by local outlet LMTonline, shortly before Lemmons arrived to the checkpoint at approximately 10:18 a.m., U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents received an anonymous call identifying his tractor-trailer as being involved in a smuggling operation.
During an immigration inspection, CBP officials identified the driver as Lemmons and a K-9 alerted to the trailer.
Upon secondary inspection an X-ray of the big rig revealed several anomalies resembling human silhouettes inside the trailer which led to the discovery of 91 illegal migrants inside.
During a post-arrest interview, Lemmons told authorities he was unaware of the human cargo.
“During a post-Miranda interview, Lemmons stated he was offered $350 by an individual known to him as Jason Strayhand to transport a tractor-trailer load from Laredo, TX to a distribution center in San Antonio, TX. Lemmons stated he was going to be hauling potato chips in a refrigerated tractor-trailer,” the arrest affidavit states.
Lemmons said he picked up the load at a truck stop on I-35 near mile marker 13, but did not inspect the contents of the tractor-trailer.
He is charged with transport, attempt to transport and conspire to transport migrants for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain.