- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 17, 2019

LAREDO, Texas (AP) - Prosecutors say a trucker faces up to 10 years in federal prison after trying to smuggle more than 70 immigrants in a locked trailer through a Border Patrol checkpoint in South Texas.

Nelson Vargas-Torres pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants. Authorities say the 42-year-old trucker from San Antonio was arrested after a June 11 search of his tractor-trailer rig, along Interstate 35 north of Laredo, revealed 76 immigrants locked in the trailer.

Officers became suspicious when Vargas-Torres said he was hauling plastics but transport documents indicated the big rig was loaded with clutch parts.

A law enforcement dog alerted agents to the immigrants hidden in the trailer. Officers used wire cutters to break the seal on the container and rescue the individuals.

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