BROWNSVILLE — A man found guilty on charges related to a massive human smuggling case — in which 86 undocumented immigrants were found hidden behind pallets of old avocados in a tractor trailer — was sentenced in federal court in Brownsville this week.
Jorge Alfredo Rodriguez, a Cuban national and the driver of the truck, was arrested alongside two accomplices. Authorities have said Danay Rego-Plasencia, also a Cuban national, acted as a scout for the operation while Roger Edgardo Garcia-Brizuela coordinated the smuggling scheme, according to The Brownsville Herald archives.
A criminal complaint filed just after Rodriguez’ arrest on May 22, 2018 stated that the man was stopped near Raymondville on a warning citation for failure to maintain a single lane. He gave consent to search to agents with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), who observed several subjects attempting to conceal themselves in the trailer.
Reports indicated that several individuals broke through the roof of the trailer after the traffic stop.
An additional criminal complaint filed against Garcia-Brizuela on Feb. 8, 2019 stated that Rodriguez was paid $45,000 for successfully smuggling more than 20 people on May 1, 2018, at $2,000 per person.
The May 22, 2018, operation would have resulted in a $215,000 payment, at $2,500 per person, according to the document.
Additionally, an analysis of Rodriguez’s cell phone revealed approximately 49 phone calls between him and Garcia prior to the smuggling events.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty to counts one and seven of an indictment handed down on June 12, 2018. He was sentenced to three years in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Proceedings for Rego-Plasencia and Garcia-Brizuela are ongoing. A plea agreement filed in federal court in Brownsville on Sept. 27 states that Garcia-Brizuela plans to plead guilty to three counts of a second superseding indictment.