Jose Vega-Arzate, a resident of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, pleaded guilty to one count of “conspiracy to transport undocumented aliens for financial gain.” He remains incarcerated and is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo on October 20, per the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
In a news release published last week, the DOJ stated Vega-Arzate exhibited “nervous behavior and had trouble shifting gears” when he approached the Laredo port of entry. He was an illegal alien when the crime occurred.
The government stated that Vega-Arzate paid $8,000 to smuggle himself across the border and cut a deal to drive the truck himself in exchange for a smaller fee.
“He did not possess experience or a commercial driving license to drive a tractor trailer in Texas,” the DOJ stated, adding that he had been admonished to avoid stopping the vehicle to ensure ventilation to those crammed in the trailer.
Border patrol dogs discovered the 85 people when Vega-Arzate attempted to pass through the checkpoint in Laredo on May 11.
Suffocation and heat exhaustion are serious hazards associated with human smuggling.
A recent occurrence ended in tragedy when 53 people died as a result of being trapped in a hot trailer with no air conditioning or ventilation. San Antonio first responders found 48 victims dead on scene, and another five died at the hospital.
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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."