Smuggling 119 illegal aliens in trailer lands man in prison

A 32-year-old Houstonian has been ordered to federal prison for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Brodrick Keith Rhodes pleaded guilty April 7.

U.S. District Judge Drew B. Tipton ordered Rhodes to serve a 50-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, Judge Tipton noted that Rhodes had transported an exceptionally high number of aliens in his trailer.

On Jan. 12, Rhodes arrived at the Freer Border Patrol checkpoint driving a semi-truck and refrigerated trailer. He claimed he was hauling lettuce, but authorities noticed discrepancies with his bill of lading. They also noted he appeared nervous and that the trailer was set to 30 degrees but with an internal temperature of 68.

At secondary inspection, law enforcement ultimately found 119 aliens in the trailer’s cargo area.

Rhodes claimed he worked for a business in La Porte, but the bill of lading indicated he was transporting lettuce from a Laredo produce company to a location in Sugar Land. The business indicated Rhodes had never been employed with them nor do they even transport outside the Houston area. The other two companies confirmed they had no record of the shipment.

The aliens told authorities they had been taken to a truck and told to get in the trailer. It soon departed and did not stop until it reached the checkpoint.

Rhodes was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul A. Harrison prosecuted the case.

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