federal court of laredo guilty trial migrant smuggling pregnant

A federal jury in Laredo found a lawful permanent resident of North Carolina guilty of human trafficking after a one-day trial, the U.S. attorney’s office said May 11.

The jury deliberated for about four hours before convicting Aurelio Barajas-Pulido, 52, after a day-long trial. He could lose his permanent resident status in the United States.

Authorities said that on February 8, Barajas-Pulido attempted to drive a tractor-trailer through the Interstate 35 checkpoint in Laredo. Barajas-Pulido showed “suspicious behavior” during the inspection. A K-9 unit also alerted to possible contraband in the trailer.

Barajas-Pulido was referred to a secondary inspection, where authorities discovered 80 migrants, including three unaccompanied minors. A minor was pregnant, authorities said.

During the trial, the defense claimed that Barajas-Pulido was unaware that he was smuggling migrants. In the end, the jury did not believe the defense claims.

U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo presided over the trial. Sentencing will be set at a later date. Barajas-Pulido faces up to 10 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case with the help of the US Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Isaac and Brandon Bowling prosecuted the case.

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