A Laredoan and a South Carolina man have both admitted guilt after a smuggling attempt leads to a stash house, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Eloy Martinez-Carranza, 35, of Ridgeland, South Carolina, pleaded guilty today while Jose Maria Ramirez, 28, Laredo, entered his plea Nov. 24. Both admitted to conspiring to transport illegal aliens.
Martinez-Carranza approached the US-83 Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint driving a semi-truck and trailer Oct. 1. Soon after his arrival, a BP K-9 alerted to the presence of contraband in the trailer.
Authorities cut the seal on the trailer and found 40 illegal aliens, including three unaccompanied minors. The inside temperature was approximately 109 degrees. Law enforcement also observed coffee grounds scattered around the trailer.
Martinez-Carranza claimed he was traveling to Laredo from South Carolina to work as a trucker. However, he did not have a commercial driver’s license or any training as a truck driver.
Upon further investigation, authorities identified a location suspected to be the stash house for the illegal aliens. Law enforcement conducted surveillance and stopped a vehicle leaving the house. Ramirez was driver of that vehicle.
Law enforcement searched the home and found a total of 22 illegal aliens, including more unaccompanied minors.
U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo accepted their pleas and set sentencing for March 24. At that time, both men face up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Martinez-Carranza and Ramirez have been and will remain in custody pending their sentencing.