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July 7, 2022Corpus Christi, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI Corpus Christi investigation helps convict Houston man of smuggling 20 undocumented migrants in locked trailer

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Houston man pleaded guilty July 6 to smuggling 20 unlawfully present migrants in a locked FedEx trailer following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Corpus Christi.

Vince Ruiz III, 32, pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Texas to one count of transporting undocumented migrants within the United States.

On Oct. 5, 2021, Ruiz drove a white Freightliner tractor pulling two trailers marked “FedEx Ground” into the primary inspection lane at the U.S. Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint located near Falfurrias. During inspection, a K-9 alerted authorities to one of the trailers. A subsequent search of the trailer revealed 20 undocumented individuals behind a locked door inside the trailer.

Ruiz admitted he drove to Edinburg to pick up the trailer and returned to Cypress. During the trip, he pulled over to the side of the road in a secluded area where the undocumented individuals were then loaded into the trailer.

The migrants were later determined to be illegally present in the country

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos will impose sentencing Oct. 4. At that time, Ruiz faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. Ruiz will remain in custody pending sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Parker Gochenour is prosecuting the case.

For more news and information on HSI’s efforts to combat human smuggling in Southeast Texas follow us on Twitter @HSIHouston.

Updated: 07/08/2022