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Press Release

Texas trucker tampers with truthful testimony

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

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 48-year-old Edinburg resident has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction for obstruction of justice, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Jose Manuel Gutierrez pleaded guilty Jan. 26.  

Today, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ordered Gutierrez to serve 14 months in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence regarding Gutierrez’s criminal history which includes convictions for assault, money laundering and aiding and abetting the entry of illegal aliens. In handing down the sentence, the court noted the concerning nature and circumstances of the crime.

“This human smuggler tried to get witnesses to lie,” said Hamdani. “My office is not going to stand by and let intimidation replace the truth. The seriousness of his threats to justice merit the sentence imposed today.”

At the time of his plea, Gutierrez admitted he attempted to influence an official proceeding knowingly and dishonestly, with intent to undermine the proceeding.

On April 11, 2022, Gutierrez arrived at the Falfurrias Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint. There, authorities ultimately found 10 people, illegally present in the United States, concealed in the sleeper portion of the tractor he was driving. Two of them described how they were transported and identified Gutierrez in a photo-lineup as the driver who instructed them to get into the vehicle and covered them with blankets.  

However, the two witnesses later changed their accounts, reporting they did not know Gutierrez and had no contact with them.

The investigation revealed Gutierrez had provided the names of the two witnesses to a family member after their initial statements to authorities. He instructed the individual to give the names to another person who could then “work” them. The witnesses later claimed they had changed their statements because Gutierrez had told them to do so. While there were no direct threats, both reported they were afraid something might happen to them if they had not done so.  

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

BP conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Liesel Roscher and John Marck prosecuted the case.

Updated May 4, 2023