Texas man admits to smuggling Mexican nationals in coffin
A Texas man has pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle two Mexican nationals into a flagged coffin while telling a border patrol agent that the shredded coffin contained a dead “Navy Guy,” federal prosecutors said.
Zachary Taylor Blood, 33, of Galveston, was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers while driving a gray van modified to carry caskets at a checkpoint near Falfurrias in the state of Lone Star, the U.S., on October 26 – The District Attorney for the South announced on Tuesday the district of Texas.
Agents spotted a coffin in the back of Blood’s van and prompted them to ask what it was transporting, federal prosecutors said.
“Dead guy, Navy guy,” Blood replied curtly, court documents show.
But Border Patrol agents noted the coffin was in poor condition and had an American flag roughly taped to the top, authorities said.
Blood’s vehicle was sent for a second inspection, during which two Mexican nationals illegally in the US were discovered in the derelict coffin.
“The two men admit to paying a smuggler to take them to San Antonio,” federal prosecutors said in a statement Tuesday. “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 put her in the coffin and started driving north.”
Checkpoint Falfurrias in rural Brooks County is about 70 miles north of the US-Mexico border. Both Border Patrol agents who discovered Blood’s rusty and dented coffin are military veterans, NBC News reported.
A lawyer for Blood – who is not accused of bringing the two Mexican nationals to the United States – said his client accepted responsibility in the case but declined further comment, according to NBC News.
One of the Mexican nationals, meanwhile, told investigators he paid $6,000 to be smuggled into the United States alongside his cousin – the second man discovered in the coffin, according to an NBC News affidavit.
Blood, who remains incarcerated before his May 11 sentencing, faces five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.