Former Ft. Hood Soldier Sentenced for Alien Smuggling
BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Christopher David Wix, a former active duty U.S. Army soldier based at Fort Hood in Killeen, has been sentenced on alien smuggling charges, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Wix, 21, of Abilene, entered a plea to conspiracy to transport and harbor undocumented aliens Oct. 30, 2014.
Today, U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle ordered Wix to 12 months and one day in federal prison to be immediately followed by two years of supervised release. At the hearing, additional evidence was presented to include that Wix attempted to use his military identification to facilitate his passing through the immigration checkpoint. In handing down the sentences, Judge Tagle noted Wix’s youthful age and his relatively low rank within the smuggling conspiracy compared to the other defendants as factors for imposing the sentence.
WIx was charged along with Eric Alexander Rodriguez, 20, of Odem, Brandon Troy Robbins, 20, from San Antonio, both also former soldiers based at Ft. Hood; and Arnoldo Gracia, 45, of Harlingen, in a seven-count indictment with the smuggling of undocumented aliens through the immigration checkpoint located at Sarita. Rodriguez, Robbins and Gracia have also entered pleas of guilty and are scheduled for sentencing Aug. 4, 2015.
On Sept. 11, 2014, Rodriguez arrived at the immigration checkpoint in Sarita driving a truck that was registered to Gracia. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents looked in the rear floorboard and seat areas and observed his military jacket, a bed sheet and other clothing covering the area. A further inspection revealed two undocumented individuals hiding under the items.
The continuing investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) revealed two earlier incidents involving Army soldiers stationed at Ft. Hood occurring at the Sarita checkpoint. Agents determined that on April 13, 2014, Robbins had also arrived at the same immigration checkpoint and stated he was soldier going to Fort Hood. In a routine check of his vehicle, agents discovered two undocumented individuals hiding under a blanket. Agents also learned that on June 21, 2014, Wix had arrived at the same checkpoint, driving a car registered to Rodriguez and presented his military identification. Agents conducted a routine check of the vehicle and discovered two undocumented individuals hiding under his military gear. Further investigation revealed Gracia as the person supplying the aliens to the Wix and the others.
Wix was permitted to remain on bond and surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
HSI conducted the investigation with the assistance of CBP. Assistant U. S. Attorney Oscar Ponce is prosecuting the case.