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Trucker sentenced for smuggling 71 people after telling officials he was hauling ‘pig meat’

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A Texas-based truck driver has been sentenced to federal prison on charges related to human trafficking after he was caught transporting dozens of people in a refrigerated trailer.

On April 27, truck driver Denny Fuentes, 48, was ordered to serve 15 months in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. The prison term is to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release.

Fuentes pleaded guilty to transporting undocumented aliens in September 2022.

Fuentes was arrested on June 15, 2022, after approaching a Border Patrol checkpoint in Webb County, Texas, in a semi truck pulling a refrigerated trailer.

“[Fuentes] slowly approached the primary commercial lane at the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint in Webb county, but authorities had to order him to stop. At initial inspection, he displayed nervous behavior, and his lips were trembling. Fuentes told authorities he was “hauling pig meat.” He provided his passport and a manifest for products requiring transport at no higher than 45 degrees. However, the trailer temperature was set at 56 degrees,” officials said.

Officers searched the trailer and discovered 71 people including 5 minors inside enclosed metal trailer. Temperatures outside were around 100 degrees and it was nearly 80 degrees inside the trailer.

During the hearing, the court heard that the 71 individuals were locked inside the trailer and that that Fuentes put everyone who was in the trailer in danger of harm.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations.

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