- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A man who used a coffin to try to smuggle illegal immigrants through a border checkpoint in Texas pleaded guilty Tuesday.

Zachary Taylor Blood had tried to sell Border Patrol agents on a story that he was carrying a dead Navy sailor in the flag-draped coffin in the back of his Dodge Caravan.

“Dead guy, Navy guy,” Blood told agents.

But one agent, a military veteran, figured things didn’t feel right.

The coffin was rusty and dented, and the flag was “crudely” attached to the coffin with packing tape and zip ties — all of which violate funeral protocols for a veteran.

A canine sniffed and alerted to the vehicle, and when agents popped open the coffin, they found two cousins, both illegal immigrants from Mexico, crammed inside and struggling to breathe.

SEE ALSO: Illegal immigrants smuggled inside portable toilets

One of the migrants said he’d paid $2,000 to cross the border and owed another $4,000 for his smuggling trip, which he’d have to work off in San Antonio.

The migrants said the coffin was only partially closed at first, but when they got near the checkpoint, Blood made them pull the lid on tighter to try to fool agents.

A coffin is one of the more unorthodox measures smugglers have used to try to get illegal immigrants through the network of Border Patrol checkpoints that serve as a secondary border wall.

Cloned delivery trucks, ambulances, taxis and tow trucks have all been sniffed out by agents at checkpoints.

Blood faces up to five years for his smuggling attempt.

He was in custody after having his bond revoked earlier this month. He admitted he left the area without permission, failed to report for drug testing and had been using illegal drugs, all in violation of conditions of his release.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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