Truck Driver Guilty of Alien Smuggling Resulting in Death
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 45-year-old Weslaco man has admitted to human smuggling which resulted in the death of an undocumented alien trapped inside a toolbox, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
Juan Enrique Escobedo-Moreno appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jason B. Libby and admitted to smuggling the victim in his tractor trailer. He died after being trapped in a toolbox measuring only 30 inches long, 26 inches wide and 16 inches deep.
According to the facts presented to the court during guilty plea today, Escobedo-Moreno drove his 2002 Kenworth tractor-trailer into the primary inspection area of the Falfurrias Border Patrol checkpoint shortly after midnight on Oct. 3, 2017. He claimed to be a hauling a load of watermelons from Edinburg to Houston and that no one else was with him. Upon inspection, authorities discovered one Mexican national hidden inside a small closet directly behind the driver’s seat. Escobedo-Moreno and that undocumented alien made no mention of anyone else in the vehicle.
Authorities later discovered the remains of an individual concealed in a tool compartment under the sleeper berth. When in the down position, the bed was secured with an exterior latch that would be inaccessible from inside the tool storage compartment under the bed and prevent anyone from freeing themselves. According to information presented in court, Escobedo-Moreno specifically instructed the victim to pull the bed down hard to make sure it would latch and stay closed.
Sentencing has been set for April 9, 2018, before Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack. At that time, Escobedo-Moreno faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Border Patrol conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert D. Thorpe Jr. is prosecuting the case.