CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS — A federal jury has returned guilty verdicts against two Houston men for knowingly and intentionally conspiring to transport an undocumented immigrant unlawfully.
It took approximately 90 minutes for the jury to deliberated and convict Reuben Stafford, 47, and Reginald Lewis, 31.
The jury heard that at approximately 9:15 a.m. on May 29, authorities at the Javier Vega Border Patrol (BP) Checkpoint in Sarita observed a truck hauling an empty boat trailer. Lewis was driving. At the first inspection, he provided several inconsistent stories about his travel plans and showed signs of nervousness.
Testimony revealed that authorities suspected he was smuggling contraband through the inter-coastal waterway and followed Lewis to the Port Aransas boat docks.
There, they observed Stafford arrive at the dock in a boat along with an undocumented immigrant.
Both men, along with the immigrant, attempted to flee the Corpus Christi area. However, law enforcement quickly arrested them at the docks.
The jury heard a confession Stafford had made, but the defense attempted to convince the jury that authorities coached Stafford on what to say.
They further tried to claim the men had no idea they were transporting an undocumented immigrant.
The jury did not believe those claims and found them guilty as charged.
Their sentencing date was set for March 13, 2020.
Both Stafford and Lewis face up to ten years in federal prison, along with a maximum of $250,000 possible fine.