CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A 33-year-old Humble, Texas, man has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of smuggling 20 non-U.S. citizens, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Vince Ruiz III pleaded guilty July 6, 2022.
At a hearing, the court heard that in the event of an emergency or accident, the smuggled individuals would not have been able to extricate themselves from the inside of the trailer. In discussing the factors impacting the sentence, the court remarked on Ruiz’s use of his commercial driver’s license as a special skill in committing the offense.
On Oct. 5, 2021, Ruiz drove a white Freightliner tractor pulling two trailers marked “FedEx Ground” into the primary inspection lane at the border patrol checkpoint located near Falfurrias, according to the news release.
At that time, Ruiz possessed a valid commercial driver’s license. During inspection, a K-9 officer alerted authorities to one of the trailers.
A subsequent search of the trailer revealed 20 undocumented individuals inside behind a locked door, including a 16-year-old unaccompanied minor. Law enforcement also discovered 15 grams of marijuana and five grams of cocaine.
At the time of his plea, Ruiz admitted he drove to Edinburg to pick up the trailer and return to Cypress. During the trip, he pulled over to the side of the road in a secluded area where the undocumented individuals were then loaded into the trailer.
They were later determined to be illegally present in the country.
Ruiz has been and 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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