Truck driver sentenced to three years in federal prison for smuggling 51 illegal aliens in an onion shipment

For illegally transporting 51 undocumented migrants in the back of a tractor trailer, a 28-year-old truck driver was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison on Wednesday.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons performed the investigation.

Rene Garcia, a San Benito, Texas resident, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison on Jan. 26 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, followed by three years of supervised release. On August 5, 2021, Garcia pleaded guilty to the charges.

The judge based his decision on the nature and facts of the case, as well as the fact that Garcia had just been convicted of transporting undocumented migrants in another case.


Garcia arrived at the Falfurrias Border Patrol (BP) crossing on May 13, 2021, driving a semi-truck and trailer. Authorities referred the car to secondary inspection after a K-9 alerted them to it.

Authorities discovered 51 illegal people in the rear of the tractor trailer, concealed beneath pallets of onions. At least one of the migrants said he had trouble breathing in the trailer, and there was no way to get out in case of an emergency.

Garcia eventually admitted to making plans with a San Benito resident to sneak the undocumented migrants via the Falfurrias checkpoint and on to Houston.

Garcia is still being held in jail and will be transferred to a Bureau of Prisons facility in the near future. The case was prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Patrick Overman.


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