The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a news release that Saldaña sentenced 46-year-old Othell Brown at the federal courthouse in Laredo on Wednesday. The DOJ indicated that Brown will also be subject to three years of supervised release.
On June 28 of this year, Brown entered a plea of guilty on one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens.
In an enforcement encounter on April 29, border patrol agents at a checkpoint on Interstate 35 flagged the tractor-trailer Brown was driving for secondary inspection after police dogs reacted to the vehicle, according to prosecutors.
According to the criminal complaint, when border police questioned Brown, he claimed that he thought the cargo he was transporting was chicken. He also said that he was paid up to $1,000 and, despite having “a feeling he was hauling something illegal,” did not ask about the contents of the truck to avoid conflict with the person who hired him.
The DOJ stated that the refrigerated truck was sealed and border agents had to use a metal grinder to pry it open.
“At the hearing, the court heard additional testimony that detailed Brown’s prior training as a truck driver and whether it assisted him in the smuggling attempt,” the news release stated, adding that he confessed to smuggling “several loads of people for the same organizer” on previous occasions.
“In handing down the sentence, the court noted Brown was extremely lucky that nobody was injured or killed during the smuggling attempt as it would have resulted in a much higher sentence.”
Craig Larrabee, the special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ San Antonio office, also commented on the sentencing.
“Those responsible for illegally moving people into and through our country place personal profit ahead of public safety and border protection. They are driven by greed with little regard for the health and well-being of their human cargo,” Larrabee said.
In a separate human smuggling case that took place in June, first responders in San Antonio found 48 dead bodies in a tractor-trailer and another five people died at the hospital. Two defendants are facing possible death sentences for their alleged role in the crime.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."