CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A Houston man has pleaded guilty to allegedly attempting to smuggle more than a dozen people behind a load of produce in a semitrailer, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas.
A federal grand jury returned the indictment against Joshua Andrus, 30, on April 11. Officials said he pleaded guilty Wednesday.
Andrus admitted he attempted to transport illegal aliens hidden behind a load of produce in the trailer portion of the 18-wheeler he was driving, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
On March 22, 2017, Andrus drove a semitrailer and approached the primary inspection lane at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint near Falfurrias. Officials said a service K-9 alerted to the trailer during a routine immigration inspection.
Authorities discovered 15 people locked inside during a subsequent search of the vehicle, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Officials said the temperature inside the refrigerated trailer was 56 degrees.
Andrus was permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing hearing, which will be set at a later date, according to the U.S. attorney's office. At that time, he faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.