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Press Release

Man convicted for smuggling nearly 80 and pregnant minor in trailer

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

LAREDO, Texas – A federal jury in Laredo has convicted a 52-year-old legal permanent resident of North Carolina for alien smuggling, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

The jury deliberated for approximately four hours before convicting Aurelio Barajas-Pulido following a one-day trial.

During that trial, the jury heard that on Feb. 8, Barajas-Pulido attempted to drive a tractor trailer through the Interstate Highway 35 checkpoint in Laredo. At inspection, Barajas-Pulido demonstrated suspicious behavior. A K-9 also alerted authorities to the presence of concealed humans.

Law enforcement referred him for further inspection, after which they found a total of 80 undocumented citizens in the trailer including three unaccompanied minors, one of whom was pregnant. All were determined to be in the United States illegally.

At trial, the defense attempted to convince the jury that Barajas-Pulido did not have knowledge that he was smuggling undocumented persons. However, they heard testimony from material witnesses who described their journey from their home country to the tractor trailer Barajas-Pulido drove. Law enforcement also provided testimony about how his story was not logical.

The jury ultimately did not believe defense claims and found him guilty.

U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo presided over trial and will set sentencing for a future date. At that time, Barajas-Pulido faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

As a legal permanent resident, Barajas-Pulido could lose his status in the United States.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Isaac and Brandon Bowling are prosecuting the case.

Updated May 11, 2022

Human Smuggling