CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A federal jury in Corpus Christi has returned a guilty verdict against a 44-year-old man for conspiring to transport illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
The Jury deliberated for approximately 30 minutes before convicting Ernest Mario Gutierrez following a two-day trial.
On Aug. 5, 2020, law enforcement learned of a vehicle in which people were being loaded on Highway 281. Shortly thereafter, they found and began following a suspicious white pickup truck believed to be involved to a Stripes gas station.
There, they discovered two undocumented individuals in the bed of the truck and one in the cab.
At trial, the jury heard from law enforcement that Gutierrez has been a passenger of the vehicle and attempted to avoid detection by entering the gas station.
The defense attempted to convince the jury Gutierrez did not know that the driver of the truck was going to pick up aliens. The jury was not convinced and found him guilty as charged.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos presided over the trial and set sentencing for Feb. 1, 2023. At that time, Gutierrez faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Gutierrez was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Border Patrol conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda L. Gould is prosecuting the case.