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Press Release

Trucker convicted for trafficking several aliens into South Texas

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

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A federal jury has returned a guilty verdict against a 51-year-old man for unlawfully transporting undocumented aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

The jury deliberated for approximately 45 minutes before finding Andrew Rafael Martinez-Peralta, Newark, New Jersey, guilty following a two-day trial.

On July 5, 2023, Martinez-Peralta drove a tractor-trailer to the Sarita Border Patrol checkpoint. During a search, a K-9 alerted to the sleeper area where authorities subsequently discovered seven illegal aliens concealed within the bed compartment of the tractor, in a toolbox under the bed and inside a closet.

The jury heard how authorities found the aliens’ cell phones directly above Martinez-Peralta’s head. Testimony revealed he had collected the phones while transporting them to the checkpoint. 

A witness also stated that he had agreed to pay $25,000 to be smuggled into the United States from Brazil with a final destination in Massachusetts.

At the trial, Martinez-Peralta testified and argued he had no knowledge of the illegal aliens’ presence in his vehicle despite checking the bed compartment before traveling to the checkpoint. The jury ultimately did not believe those claims and found him guilty as charged.

“Martinez-Peralta claimed he didn’t know that there were seven migrants in the sleeper area of his tractor-trailer, a claim so incredible that it took the jury less than an hour to find him guilty,” said Hamdani. “The smuggling of migrants across Texas’s southern border is a pernicious problem made worse by human smugglers, like Martinez-Peralta, who use their tractor-trailers and the cover of legitimate commercial activities to mask illegal and harmful activities.”

U.S. District Judge David S. Morales presided over the trial and set sentencing for May 22. At that time, Martinez-Peralta faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Martinez-Peralta was permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.

Customs and Border Protection conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Marck and Tyler Foster prosecuted the case. 

Updated February 27, 2024

Human Trafficking