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Man sentenced to prison for smuggling Chinese national in trunk

Posted at 11:11 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 00:11:19-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A 45-year-old Houston man has been sentenced to prison for trying to smuggle an illegal Chinese immigrant into the country. The sentence was handed out on Tuesday in a Corpus Christi federal court.

The jury deliberated for approximately two hours before convicting Torrie Franklin Feb. 4. The sentencing trial lasted one-day trial. U.S. District Judge David S. Morales ordered Franklin to serve 42 months or 3.5 years immediately followed by three years of supervised release.

According to the U.S. District Attorney's office, on Nov. 12, 2019, Franklin drove a blue four-door sedan into the primary inspection lane at the Border Patrol (BP) Checkpoint located near Falfurrias. Agents inspected did a routine inspection and a K-9 alerted them to the trunk of the car. That's where they found the undocumented Chinese national.

At the time of his arrest, Franklin told authorities he had encountered the man at a gas station. Franklin claimed the Chinese national asked for a ride to Houston, despite not knowing any English. He also said the man asked to ride in the trunk as opposed to inside the vehicle.

At trial, the jury heard from the Chinese national who said Franklin was the person who placed him inside the trunk. They also heard excerpts of Franklin’s phone calls in which he admitted his role in the offense.

The U.S. Attorney says the defense attempted to convince the jury that Franklin was merely a good Samaritan just providing a ride however, jurors did not believe his claims and ultimately found him guilty as charged.

Franklin has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.