Driver caught in Florida smuggling illegal immigrants

Houston man admits getting paid to bring them to Florida

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. - A Texas driver was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents this week after he was caught in Sumter County with an SUV full of illegal immigrants.

According to federal court documents, the border agent was patrolling Interstate 75, south of the Florida Turnpike, when he noticed a Honda SUV sagging from carrying a heavy load.

The agent said he ran the license tag number and it came back as registered to a woman who "is a previously deported alien from Mexico."

The agent followed the SUV and the driver abruptly exited the interstate.

The agent said he watched the vehicle continue west and enter Florida National Cemetery, a place where United States military members are laid to rest.

The agent said the vehicle finally came to a stop there.

He said he found nine people inside the SUV.

In the front seat was the driver, a 26-year-old man from Houston, he said.

In the back, he said, he found eight people who were in the United States illegally: seven from Mexico and one from Guatemala.

They told the agent they had crossed the border in Laredo, Texas, last week.

The driver told the agent a smuggler had paid him $900 to drive the people from Houston to Tampa.

According to the documents, all of the people in the car were arrested and taken to the Tampa Border Patrol Station for processing.

On Thursday, a U.S. magistrate freed the driver from jail with the condition he return to Ocala for his federal court hearings.

If he fails to show up, he will have to pay $20,000.‚Äč

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