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June 2, 2022Corpus Christi, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

South Texas truck driver convicted of smuggling 73 people in tractor trailer following ICE HSI investigation

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A South Texas man pleaded guilty June 1 to illegally transporting undocumented migrants within the United States following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Corpus Christi, Texas, with assistance from the U.S. Border Patrol.

Leonardo Davila Jr., 24-year-old resident of Mission, Texas, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to smuggling 73 people while driving an 18-wheeler.

On Feb. 8, Davila drove a tractor trailer into the Border Patrol checkpoint near Falfurrias, Texas. During inspection, a K-9 alerted authorities to the presence of concealed humans. Upon a search of the trailer, law enforcement discovered dozens of undocumented individuals.

In the trailer were nationals of Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Mexico and El Salvador. All 73 were later determined to be illegally present in the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Drew B. Tipton will impose sentencing Aug. 24. At that time, Davila faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

He will remain in custody pending that hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Overman is prosecuting the case.

HSI is a directorate of 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 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 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.