Houston man who claimed to be hauling lettuce sentenced for smuggling 119 migrants

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Friday, July 9, 2021
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston man was sentenced to prison for smuggling 119 migrants in a trailer across the U.S.- Mexico border.

Brodrick Keith Rhodes, 32, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens on April 7.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Drew B. Tipton ordered him to serve a 50-month sentence, immediately followed by three years of supervised release.

According to Homeland Security, Rhodes arrived at the Freer Border Patrol checkpoint on Jan. 12, driving a semi-truck and refrigerated trailer. He reportedly told authorities he was hauling lettuce.

Authorities became suspicious when they reported that he appeared nervous and that the truck was set to 30 degrees, yet had an internal temperature of 68.

Rhodes reportedly claimed that he worked for a business in La Porte, but his shipment detail documents said he was transporting lettuce from a Laredo produce company to a location in Sugar Land.

RELATED: Nearly 3 dozen migrants discovered crammed inside moving truck in west Texas

They were found locked inside the brutally hot cargo hold of the truck near a fast food restaurant with no fresh air and temperatures of nearly 100 degrees.

The La Porte business told authorities that Rhodes had never been employed with them and that they don't even transport outside the Houston area. The other two companies listed also confirmed that they had no record of the lettuce shipment.

Law enforcement officials found 119 migrants in the trailer's cargo area upon secondary inspection, a number Judge Tipton called "exceptionally high."

The migrants reportedly told authorities that they had been taken to a truck and told to get in the trailer. They said the truck did not stop until it reached the checkpoint.

Rhodes was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The video above is from a previous report.