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Press Release

Mexican national admits to transporting 85 aliens in hot trailer

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

LAREDO, Texas – A 31-year-old undocumented alien himself has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport undocumented aliens for financial gain, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Jose Luis Vega-Arzate, Nuevo Laredo, Temaulipas, Mexico, drove into the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint north of Laredo on May 11. At initial inspection, he displayed nervous behavior and had trouble shifting gears.

After a K-9 also alerted to the trailer, authorities broke the seal, opened it and discovered 85 individuals locked inside the vehicle. They were later determined to be illegally present in the United States.

At that time, Vega-Arzate told authorities that he had agreed to pay $8,000 to have himself smuggled from Mexico into the country and transported to Austin. He volunteered to drive the tractor trailer through the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint to receive a large reduction in his own transportation fee. He did not possess experience or a commercial driving license to drive a tractor trailer in Texas.

According to court documents, he was cautioned to avoid stopping on the way to San Antonio because the undocumented individuals could die due to lack of ventilation resulting from the trailer’s lack of movement.

U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo will impose sentencing Oct. 20. At that time, Vega-Arzate faces up to 20 years in federal prison and possible $250,000 maximum fine.

He has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of BP. Assistant U.S. Attorney Homero Ramirez is prosecuting this case.

Updated July 22, 2022

Human Smuggling