Texas man pleads guilty to conspiring to transport more than 100 noncitizens in a tractor trailer
LAREDO, Texas — A Houston man pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to transport 119 noncitizens inside a tractor trailer.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated the case with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol.
Brodrick Keith Rhodes, 32, from Houston, entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court.
According to court documents, on Jan. 12, Rhodes arrived at the Freer Border Patrol checkpoint driving a semi-truck and refrigerated trailer. He claimed he was hauling lettuce, but U. S. Border Patrol agents noticed discrepancies with his bill of lading. They also noted he appeared nervous and the trailer was set to 30 degrees but with an internal temperature of 68 degrees. At secondary inspection agents discovered 119 noncitizens in the trailer’s cargo area.
Rhodes claimed he worked for a trucking business in La Porte, Texas, but the bill of lading indicated he was transporting lettuce from a Laredo, Texas, produce company to a location in Sugar Land, Texas. The owner of the trucking business said Rhodes has never been employed by the company despite what he told Border Patrol agents. The two additional companies, the produce company and the food processing company, confirmed they had no record of the produce shipment.
The noncitizens told agents they had been taken to a truck and told to get in the trailer. It soon departed and did not stop until it reached the checkpoint.
Rhodes is expected to be sentenced July 27. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a potential fine of up to $250,000. Rhodes remains released on bond until his sentencing hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul A. Harrison, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.
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 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.