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Truck driver sentenced to federal prison for smuggling 26 people in locked refrigerated trailer set to 33 degrees

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On Thursday, a Texas truck driver was sentenced to prison for transporting dozens of individuals in a locked refrigerated trailer during a 2021 human smuggling attempt.

Thirty-nine year old Carlos Alberto Avila was sentenced on July 7, 2022, to 21 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

Avila pleaded guilty to charges related to human smuggling on January 6, 2022.

The human smuggling attempt occurred on October 26, 2021, when Avila drove a 2019 Kenworth truck into a Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint located near Falfurrias. After a canine unit alerted to the vehicle, it was referred for a secondary inspection. Agents discovered 26 people in the locked trailer. Officials said that each person was determined to be in the U.S. illegally.

The individuals discovered in the trailer were found lying on top of ice and pallets of frozen broccoli. They reported that they feared they might freeze to death. The control temperature of the trailer was reportedly set to 33 degrees.

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence that the individuals were locked in the trailer for over three hours and were instructed to climb into the trailer and lay on top of ice. They likely would have been in there for four more hours. The court also learned they used a cell phone for light and crawled to the trailer door for warmth.

In handing down the sentence, the court noted Avila personally put a lock on the trailer, trapping the 26 individuals. Judge Morales noted they were stuck in near freezing and life threatening conditions.

Avila will remain in custody pending his transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility.

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