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Press Release

Houston man indicted in Laredo for smuggling 119 illegal aliens

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

LAREDO, Texas – A 32-year-old man has been charged with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Originally charged by criminal complaint, a Laredo grand jury returned an indictment today against Brodrick Keith Rhodes. He will appear before U.S. a magistrate judge in the near future.

The charges allege that on Jan. 12, authorities stopped Rhodes after he approached the Freer Border Patrol checkpoint driving a semi-truck and refrigerated trailer. He had claimed he was hauling lettuce and produced a bill of lading, according to the complaint.

However, law enforcement allegedly noticed discrepancies and that Rhodes appeared nervous. Further, the refrigerated trailer was set to 30 degrees but the internal temperature was at 68, according to the charges.

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 illegal aliens, according to the complaint.  

Rhodes allegedly claimed he worked for a business in La Porte, but the bill of lading indicated he was transporting lettuce from a Laredo produce company to a location in Sugar Land. The business indicated Rhodes had never been employed with them nor do they transport outside the Houston area, according to the charges. Further, the complaint alleges the other two companies confirmed they had no record of the shipment.

According to the charges, some of the transported aliens said they had been taken to and told to get in the truck. It left soon after and did not stop until it reached the checkpoint, according to the allegations.  

If convicted, Rhodes faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum possible $250,000 fine.  

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul A. Harrison is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

Updated February 9, 2021

Human Smuggling