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Press Release

Local man sentenced for transporting 27 aliens in tanker truck filled with water

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

LAREDO, Texas – A 29-year-old Laredoan has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction for conspiring to transport aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. 

Jesus Ramon Soto Jr. pleaded guilty Nov. 5, 2019.  

Today, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana handed Soto a 46-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court noted Soto’s behavior was “egregious” and “callous” and showed a complete disregard for human life. 

On Aug. 21, 2019, Soto was driving a white tanker truck near the intersection of West Viggie Street and North Rigma Avenue in Hebbronville. Law enforcement conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle for speeding.  

Federal authorities were called to the scene, after which a K-9 alerted to the presence of persons or contraband concealed within the vehicle. They soon found 27 undocumented aliens concealed within the tank in waist-high water. 

Soto said he knew he was transporting undocumented aliens. Someone drove him to the truck, where he observed numerous people being loaded into the water tank compartment. Soto later drove the truck to a water station and filled it until the aliens were approximately waist-deep in water.

Soto expected to be paid $5,000 to transport the aliens to San Antonio.

Soto will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The Jim Hogg County Constable’s Office and Border Patrol conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bukiewicz is prosecuting the case.

Updated February 12, 2020

Human Smuggling