A commercial truck driver from Kensett, Arkansas, has entered a guilty plea to transporting undocumented aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Marcus Randall Johnston, 42, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker.
According to court records, Johnston was driving north on Interstate Highway 35 until reaching the Border Patrol checkpoint near mile marker 29 on May 25, 2015. Although denying having any persons hidden within the semi-tractor he was driving, agents discovered nine undocumented aliens – eight of whom were from Mexico and one from Ecuador – hiding within the cab behind and above the driver’s chair. All of the transported aliens admitted they had entered the Rio Grande River from Mexico illegally. They furthered that they had paid up to $2,000 in advance to the smugglers of the total $6,000-$6,500 required for the illegal transportation from their native countries.
Upon his arrest Johnston immediately confessed. He related having agreeing to smuggle the aliens from Laredo and would be paid $4,000 for smuggling them from Laredo to Cotulla. He expected to receive more specific instructions upon arrival in Cotulla with the aliens.
Johnston faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000. He has been in custody since his arrest on May 25, 2015, where he will remain pending sentencing before U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen to be set at a later date.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose Homero Ramirez is prosecuting the case.