Jury convicts out-of-state man for human smuggling in Texas | USAO-SDTX

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A federal jury has convicted a 54-year-old Chicago, Illinois, man for transporting illegal aliens in a tractor trailer, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

The jury deliberated for approximately 90 minutes before convicting Jose Luis Gutierrez-Plascencia following a two-day trial.

On Sept. 17, 2020, Jose Luis Gutierrez-Plascencia entered the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint near Sarita while driving a white Freightliner commercial tractor and pulling an enclosed trailer. At trial, the jury heard testimony that Gutierrez-Plascencia had told authorities he was hauling a load of watermelons to Chicago. Law enforcement testified that he had displayed nervous behavior and answered questions rapidly.

The jury also saw an X-ray scan conducted at the scene that revealed anomalies – human bodies. Law enforcement had physically searched the vehicle and also discovered four aliens hiding in the cab of the tractor. Upon further inspection, they unlocked the trailer, with a key from Gutierrez-Plascencia’s keychain, and found three more individuals lying down inside the trailer. There were no watermelons in the vehicle.

It was later determined that the total of seven non-U.S. citizens were illegally present in the country. Two of the seven testified at trial and identified Gutierrez-Plascencia as the driver.

U.S. District Judge David S. Morales presided over trial and set sentencing for Aug. 11. At that time, Gutierrez-Plascencia faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

BP conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joel Dunn and Ashley Martin are prosecuting the case.

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