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Press Release

Texan sentenced for attempting to smuggle over 70 people in one trailer

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

LAREDO, Texas - A 24-year-old Corpus Christi man has been ordered to federal prison for conspiring to transport illegal aliens, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Francisco Benavides pleaded guilty Dec. 18, 2020.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ordered him to serve a 48-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, Judge Marmolejo noted his lengthy criminal history and the number of aliens he was hauling.

On Oct. 14, 2020, Benavides arrived at the US-83 Border Patrol checkpoint driving a semi-truck and trailer. A K-9 alerted to the presence of contraband in the trailer. Authorities cut the seal and found 74 illegal aliens, including an unaccompanied minor.

Benavides claimed he traveled to Laredo from Corpus Christi to work as a trucker, despite not having a commercial license or any training as a driver. He also said he thought the trailer was full of frozen meat and expected to be paid $250 to drive it to Eagle Pass.

At the time of his plea, Benavides admitted he knew aliens were inside the trailer.

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

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Harrison prosecuted the case.

Updated May 12, 2021

Human Smuggling