Texas man caught smuggling illegal immigrants in flag-draped coffin

Zachary Taylor Blood, 33, of Galveston, Texas pled guilty to one count of human smuggling this week, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery. 

FILE PHOTO: A group of asylum seekers from Mexico, Cuba and Haiti are detained by U.S. Border Patrol in San Luis, Arizona, U.S., April 19, 2021.

FILE PHOTO: A group of asylum seekers from Mexico, Cuba and Haiti are detained by U.S. Border Patrol in San Luis, Arizona, U.S., April 19, 2021. (REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/File Photo)

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“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,” the statement said. “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.”

After Blood was subjected to a secondary inspection, authorities discovered two Mexican nationals inside the coffin who were illegally present in the United States. 

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent monitors single-adult male detainees at Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, U.S. July 12, 2019.  

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent monitors single-adult male detainees at Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, U.S. July 12, 2019.   (REUTERS/Veronica G. Cardenas//File Photo)

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The two men admitted to paying a smuggler to get them to San Antonio, Texas, and met Blood in a parking lot after swimming across a river into the United States. 

Blood will be sentenced on May 11 by U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos and faces up to five years in federal prison along with a $ 250,000 fine. Blood will remain in custody until that hearing.

Migrant encounters at the southern border increased again in December from the prior month, according to data provided to a federal court by the Biden administration — the latest sign that the crisis at the border is likely to continue into 2022.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection patrolling in Nogales, Arizona. A migrant who tried to escape from Border Patrol agents in Texas died while in custody, the agency said Friday. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection patrolling in Nogales, Arizona. A migrant who tried to escape from Border Patrol agents in Texas died while in custody, the agency said Friday.  (Stephanie Bennett/Fox News)

According to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data provided in the Jan 14 filing, there were 178,840 migrant encounters in December, up from 173,620 in November. That in turn was an increase from the 164,753 apprehensions in October.

Those numbers are drastically higher than the previous year, when there were 72,113 encounters in November and 73,994 in December. Biden placed Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of the administration’s border response in 2021. 

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report

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