Smuggler Sent to Prison for Transporting Aliens in Wooden Boxes
LAREDO, Texas – A 27-year-old man has been sent to federal prison for his participation in a smuggling scheme that involved dangerous and life-threatening conditions, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Zachery Steven Blizzard pleaded guilty Sept. 5, 2017.
Today, U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle sentenced Blizzard, of Kingport, Tennessee, to 48 months in prison, followed by a three-year-term of supervised release.
On June 15, 2017, Blizzard instructed three undocumented aliens - one of whom was a minor - to hide themselves in two aftermarket wooden boxes built into the back of his white 2008 Chevrolet work van. Authorities discovered the aliens as Blizzard attempted to pass through a U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint on Highway 59 approximately 15 miles west of Laredo.
Blizzard is one of eight defendants apprehended since April 2017 for transporting undocumented aliens in wooden boxes built into the back of vehicles. In some instances, the boxes were nailed or screwed shut with temperatures inside often reaching more than 100 degrees.
Yesterday, Judge Tagle sentenced Ricky Lee Parker, 51, of Calhoun, Georgia, to 24 months in prison for transporting eight undocumented aliens - found sweating and thirsty - in two cramped wooden boxes. In addition, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana previously sentenced Jason Allen North, 39, of Ashland, Kentucky; Richard Jordan Lamar Defoor, 32, of Calhoun, Georgia; Allan Ray Collins, 32, of Isom, Kentucky; and Donna Lynn Williams, 46, of Chatsworth, Georgia, while U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ordered Sean Michael McKinney, 46, of Steger, Illinois, to prison for transporting between 5-10 undocumented aliens each in the same manner. North and Collins each received 24 month, while Defoor and Collins were sentenced to 18 months. McKinney received a 30-month-term of imprisonment.
Travis Dean McKelroy, 48, of San Antonio, pleaded guilty last week and is awaiting sentencing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigations with the assistance of U.S. Border Patrol. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa M. Ezra prosecuted the cases.