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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Truck driver on his way to prison after fleeing checkpoint with 63 hidden in trailer

LAREDO, Texas - A 30-year-old Zapata man has been sentenced after admitting to conspiracy to transport aliens within the country, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Leonidas Navarro Jr. pleaded guilty June 8.

Today, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana handed Navarro a 41-month term of imprisonment. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following the sentence.

On Jan. 21, Navarro drove a white Volvo tractor-trailer combination through the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint on Interstate 35 north of Laredo. He claimed to be transporting furniture but could not provide a bill of lading or any other identifying paperwork. A K-9 soon alerted to the presence of concealed persons in the trailer. He was then referred to secondary inspection.

However, rather than complying, he drove the truck through the inspection area, off the paved road, through ground barriers and into an adjacent field. Navarro drove through the field at a high rate of speed until he ran into a fence bordering the northeast corner of the field. Navarro then fled into the brush. He jumped out of the truck and attempted to flee, but law enforcement ultimately captured him hiding at a nearby ranch.

Authorities removed the metal seal and found a total of 63 aliens including one unaccompanied minor inside the trailer. All were determined to be aliens illegally present in the United States.

He later admitted to authorities that he was the driver of the truck.

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

Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of BP. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul A. Harrison prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Immigration
Human Smuggling
Component(s): 
Updated October 14, 2020