A 33-year-old Galveston man has entered a guilty plea to attempting to smuggle individuals in a flag-draped coffin, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Zachary Taylor Blood admitted to one count of alien smuggling.
On Oct. 26, 2021, Blood drove a grey van modified to transport caskets into the primary inspection lane of the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint near Falfurrias, according to the Department of Justice.
Authorities observed a coffin in the back of the van and asked what he was transporting. He replied "Dead guy, Navy guy." However, the coffin was in poor condition and the American flag was taped to the top with packing tape.
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Law enforcement then referred him to secondary inspection. There, they discovered two Mexican nationals, both unlawfully present within the United States, concealed inside the coffin.
The two men admitted to paying a smuggler to get them to San Antonio.
They claimed that after crossing the river into the United States, they were taken to a parking lot where Blood was waiting for them. He had them get into the coffin and began driving north.
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U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos will impose sentencing on May 11. At that time, Blood faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
He has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Border Patrol conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert D. Thorpe Jr. is prosecuting the case.