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December 16, 2019Corpus Christi, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

South Texas US permanent resident sentenced to nearly 2 years in federal prison for smuggling illegal aliens

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A South Texas U.S. permanent resident was sentenced to nearly two years in federal prison Monday for smuggling illegal aliens.

This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Corpus Christi, Texas, with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Federico Espinosa-Flores, 50, from Donna, Texas, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison followed by one year of supervised release for knowingly and intentionally conspiring to unlawfully transport illegal aliens.

In handing down the sentence, the court noted the overwhelming amount of evidence against Espinosa-Flores.

On Dec. 21, 2018, at about 7:40 a.m., Espinosa-Flores entered the primary inspection lane of the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint in Sarita, Texas, driving a white Ford cargo van disguised as an adult daycare business. At that time, authorities noticed him exhibiting signs of nervousness, such as avoiding eye contact and having trembling hands. He consented to a vehicle search which resulted in the discovery of 10 illegal aliens in the van’s rear cargo area. Six aliens were from China, two were from Mexico, one was from Colombia and one was from Guatemala.  

During trial, the defense claimed that authorities coached Espinosa-Flores on what to say in his recorded and detailed confession.  However, the jury did not believe those claims and found him guilty as charged.

Espinosa-Flores remains in federal custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Neel Kapur and Lance Watt, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting this case.