Houston man pleads guilty to smuggling 119 people in refrigerated truck

HOUSTON – A Houston man pleaded guilty to charges accusing him of attempting to smuggle dozens of people across the border in a refrigerated truck.

Brodrick Keith Rhodes, 32, was driving a semi-truck with a trailer when he arrived at the Freer Border Patrol checkpoint, authorities said.

Rhodes told authorities he worked for a business in La Porte and was hauling lettuce, but the bill of lading showed he was supposed to be transporting the lettuce from a Laredo produce company to a location in Sugar Land, officials said.

Authorities also said Rhodes appeared nervous and his trailer was set to 30 degrees but had an internal temperature of 68 degrees.

Based on the discrepancies and Rhodes’ behavior, authorities investigated further.

“The business indicated Rhodes had never been employed with them nor do they even transport outside the Houston area,” according to officials. “The other two companies confirmed they had no record of the shipment.”

Authorities said when they looked in the trailer, they found 119 people who told officials they had been taken to a truck and told to get in. Afterward, the truck started moving and did not stop until reaching the checkpoint, authorities said they were told.

Rhodes faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a potential fine of up to $250,000.

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