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San Benito man sentenced for smuggling undocumented immigrants in watermelon shipment

Border Patrol agent dies while on duty in Arizona
Posted at 5:44 PM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-08 22:23:47-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — After pleading guilty in late July, Elias Lopez II was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for his part in a conspiracy to transport illegal aliens from the Rio Grande Valley through the Sarita checkpoint, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice.

On Dec. 10, 2021, Border Patrol agents discovered 24 undocumented aliens hidden among a load of watermelons in a commercial trailer. An investigation revealed that some had crossed into the United States several week before and had been kept at a "stash house" in Rio Grande Valley until transportation could be arranged.

Two of the woman discovered in the trailer identified Lopez and his wife as the owners of the stash house and where it was located. The women said that they had stayed at the house for nearly three weeks while waiting to be transported north.

On the evening of Dec. 10, in a dark, brushy lot, a trailer loaded with watermelons waited for them to load into and hide in. The trailer didn't stop until it reached the Sarita checkpoint when the illegal aliens were found.

Lopez's wife was also charged and pled guilty to the offence. She is set to be sentenced in March 2023. The driver of the tractor trailer was also charged, but is currently a fugitive of the law.

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

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