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November 2, 2022Laredo, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI, federal partner investigation results in the sentence of a south Texas man for conspiracy to transport 124 people

LAREDO, Texas - A south Texas man was sentenced to prison for conspiring to transport people in a sealed trailer, following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Border Patrol, Laredo Sector.

David William McKeon, 67, of Laredo, was sentenced Nov. 2, to 57 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, the court repeatedly emphasized McKeon’s actions resulted in endangering over 100 people. A federal jury deliberated for approximately two hours following a two-day trial before returning a guilty verdict on July 20 for one count of conspiracy.

“HSI remains steadfast in our commitment to vigorously pursue individuals that exploit and endanger people they smuggle into our country,” said Craig Larrabee, Acting Special Agent in Charge, HSI San Antonio. “These smugglers are driven by human greed and heartlessness. HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, such as Border Patrol, to maintain the integrity of our border and nation’s immigration law.”

According to court documents, on April 20, McKeon arrived at the Laredo North Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint while driving a tractor trailer. At that time, law enforcement heard suspicious noises coming from the trailer. They opened a vent door and discovered 124 individuals locked behind the doors.

At trial, the jury heard McKeon say he was recruited for the job at his birthday party a few days earlier. They heard he picked up the tractor trailer from a dirt road then was given a fraudulent bill of landing in the parking lot of a Popeye’s restaurant before driving to the checkpoint. However, the defense attempted to convince the jury that McKeon didn’t know there were noncitizens inside the trailer. The jury ultimately found him guilty of engaging in a conspiracy to transport noncitizens.

McKeon remains in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Bajew and David Fawcett, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

For additional information about HSI’s investigative efforts, follow @HSI_SanAntonio.

HSI San Antonio continues to address the serious public safety threat posed by human smuggling organizations and their reckless disregard for the health and safety of the people they exploit. To report suspicious smuggling activity, you are urged to call 1-866-348-2423.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.