LAREDO, Texas (ValleyCentral) — An 18-year-old Laredo man has been indicted on human smuggling charges after a rollover that caused serious injuries to five migrants near a border checkpoint.
U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery announced Tuesday that a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Cesar Alberto Rodriguez, who is expected to appear for his arraignment before a U.S. Magistrate Judge soon.
According to the criminal complaint filed Sept. 13, Rodriguez drove a pickup carrying two residential air-conditioning units into the Border Patrol checkpoint near Hebbronville. There, Border Patrol agents using a K-9 detection dog discovered migrants hidden inside the units, the criminal complaint alleged.
At that time, the charges alleged law enforcement asked Rodriguez for his identification. After returning his Texas ID card, he “allegedly put his truck into drive and sped away from the checkpoint,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas stated.
Authorities found the pickup in Bruni after it rolled over.
Authorities found five injured migrants, who were transported to a hospital for treatment, according to the charges. One migrant was airlifted to another hospital for further treatment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
If convicted, Rodriguez faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.