Border Patrol stop leads to 2 Mexican nationals concealed in Galveston man's coffin

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Galveston man is due for sentencing later this year after admitting to smuggling two Mexican nationals who were concealed in what Border Patrol agents observed as a flag-draped coffin in poor condition.

The office of U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery revealed on Tuesday that Zachary Taylor Blood entered a guilty plea for a federal count of alien smuggling in connection to an Oct. 26, 2021, stop at a Border Patrol checkpoint near Falfurrias, Texas.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, 33-year-old Blood was behind the wheel of a grey van that was modified to transport caskets. Agents who observed a coffin in the van asked Blood what he was transporting, to which he replied, "Dead guy, Navy guy."

However, prosecutors said agents directed him to a second checkpoint due to not only the coffin's poor condition, but also the appearance of an American flag taped to the top with packing tape.

It was at the secondary checkpoint that the smuggled Mexican nationals, both said to be unlawfully in the U.S., were found in the coffin.

Both men admitted to paying a smuggler to get them to San Antonio, according to prosecutors. The U.S. Attorney's office adds that after crossing the river into the U.S., the Mexicans nationals were taken to a parking lot where Blood was waiting for them. He had them get into the coffin and began driving north.

Blood faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine when he is sentenced in U.S. district court on May 11.
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