Mission man sentenced to federal prison for human smuggling
A Mission man has been ordered to federal prison after pleading guilty to human smuggling.
Thomas Taylor Charlton, 60, will serve four years in prison that will be immediately followed by three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
During the court hearing, additional evidence revealed the incident that described 70 people were locked in a trailer with only hatchets to exit, according to a news release.
The incident took place on July 10 when Charlton arrived at the Sarita Checkpoint claiming he was hauling chili peppers. A K-9 unit alerted officials to the trailer and law enforcement had to use bolt cutters to remove the lock and gain access to the trailer, according to the release.
Further investigation revealed 70 illegal migrants were hiding behind pallets of produce in the locked refrigerated trailer portion of the trailer, according to the release.
The release says a handheld walkie-talkie was found in the trailer and the cab of the tractor, both on the same frequency that would allow communication together. A key to the trailer was also found in the cab.
Charlton will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility.