U.S. Trucker Indicted and Facing Ten Years in Prison For Smuggling 119 Illegal Immigrants
Laredo, TX – A Texas trucker is facing a decade in prison after being indicted on human smuggling charges last week.
On February 9, a Laredo grand jury returned an indictment against Brodrick Keith Rhodes, 32, of Houston, charging him with conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the charges allege that on January 12, authorities stopped Rhodes after he approached the Freer Border Patrol checkpoint driving a semi-truck and refrigerated trailer.
He claimed he was hauling lettuce and produced a bill of lading.
However, law enforcement allegedly noticed discrepancies and observed Rhodes acting in a nervous manner.
Further, the refrigerated trailer was set to 30 degrees but the internal temperature was at 68.
After a K-9 alerted to possible presence of contraband in the cargo area of the trailer and a subsequent inspection, authorities ultimately discovered 119 undocumented immigrants.
Rhodes allegedly claimed he worked for a business in La Porte, TX, but the bill of lading indicated he was transporting lettuce from a Laredo produce company to a location in Sugar Land.
ICE investigators said the business indicated Rhodes had never been employed with them nor do they transport outside the Houston area.
Additionally, the complaint states the alleged shipper and receiver each confirmed they had no record of the shipment.
Investigators also indicated some of those being smuggled said they had been taken to Rhodes’s truck and told to get inside.
The truck left soon after the people got in and did not stop until it reached the checkpoint, according to court documents.
If convicted, Rhodes faces up to ten years in prison and a maximum possible $250,000 fine.
He is expected to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future, ICE said.