SAN ANTONIO — A south Texas man pleaded guilty Dec. 2 to the transportation of 69 noncitizens inside a tractor trailer including five unaccompanied minors.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Pearsall, Texas, Police Department.
Luis Enrique De La Cerda, 55, of El Indio plead guilty to transporting dozens of noncitizens before a federal judge.
According to court documents, on March 22, De La Cerda, was identified as the driver of a tractor trailer traveling through Pearsall. Witnesses reported to law enforcement that multiple body parts were observed sticking out from the rear of the trailer, including the head of a male child.
The tractor trailer parked in an abandoned parking lot near the outskirts of town where De La Cerda opened the rear trailer door, allowing multiple individuals to stream out of the trailer. Many complained of difficulty breathing due to no ventilation and hot temperatures in the trailer.
De La Cerda is scheduled to be sentenced on March 9, 2022 and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Matthew W. Kinskey, Western District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.
HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.