Rio Grande Valley man pleads guilty to smuggling 68 illegal aliens in onion shipment

A Hidalgo County man could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to smuggling 68 illegal aliens in a shipment of onions.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a Press release Last week, 45-year-old Leonardo Davila Sr. smuggled individuals from Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. The DOJ added that all were confirmed to be illegally present in the United States.

“On May 4, 2021, Davila drove a tractor-trailer to the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint near Falfurrias. During the inspection, a K-9 alerted authorities to the presence of hidden humans,” the DOJ said. “Law enforcement opened the trailer and discovered 68 undocumented migrants among pallets of onions.”

Davila will be sentenced on October 13 and is being held by the US government until then, the DOJ said.

In late June, San Antonio first responders found 48 people dead in a tractor-trailer in a attempted smuggling. Five other victims died in hospital.

The two accused smugglers risk being death sentences on federal charges of conspiracy and trafficking in aliens resulting in death.

Davila is not subject to capital punishment as there were no deaths as a result of this crime.

Representative Bryan Slaton (R-Royce City) recently argued in a interview with The Texan that anyone guilty of human trafficking should be subject to the death penalty. He said the increased sentence will have a deterrent effect.

Earlier this year, a San Benito man was convicted of smuggling 51 individuals in a shipment of onions as well. He was also arrested at the Falfurrias checkpoint and sentenced to 41 months in prison.


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