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San Antonio judge hands trucker 70 months in smuggling case where immigrants tried to escape

October 4, 2018

A Laredo man who was found with 53 undocumented immigrants in June in a tractor-trailer on San Antonio’s North Side was sentenced Thursday to 70 months in federal prison without parole.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery also imposed three years of supervised release on Gerardo Javier Carreon, 36, who pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants, his latest smuggling venture. Carreon admitted that he was to be paid $3,000 for transporting most of the load to Austin after dropping a handful of the immigrants in San Antonio.

Carreon apologized for his conduct.

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“His assignment was to handle the San Antonio to Austin leg of the trip,” Carreon’s lawyer, assistant federal public defender Alfredo Villarreal said after Thursday’s sentencing hearing.

Carreon’s plea deal said Carreon took over the rig in San Antonio after it had been driven here by someone else. Villarreal said “there have been no other apprehensions or arrests that I’m aware of.”

The rig was pulled over the evening of June 12 near the 8400 block of Laurelcrest Place, close to Broadway and Loop 410, where others in the smuggling chain were going to pick up four to five of the immigrants that were in the trailer. As Carreon opened the trailer’s doors to let the handful out, all the immigrants ran from the trailer and into the neighborhood because authorities — who had been watching the rig — approached.

Some of the immigrants injured themselves jumping over fences and off rootops of nearby houses as they ran to escape. Carreon also took off, but was caught. Once detained, the tired immigrants were fed pizza donated by San Antonians who had watched the incident unfold on local television news.

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As a result of Carreon’s guilty plea, three of the four immigrants who had been kept here as material witnesses to testify against him were cut loose from the criminal proceedings and instead were processed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation. The others have either been deported, or if they had valid asylum claims, processed accordingly.

Carreon, who also has lived in Hebbronville, has a lengthy record that includes convictions for smuggling immigrants and drugs, and some failures to appear in court or violating terms of federal supervision, public records show.

Of the immigrants caught, six were treated at the hospital, 47 were taken into custody immediately and processed for deportation. The immigrants were from Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico, records show.

Guillermo Contreras covers federal court and immigration news in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | gcontreras@express-news.net | Twitter: @gmaninfedland

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