A Texas man who tried to smuggle two Mexican nationals inside a coffin has pleaded guilty, prosecutors said.
The man, Zachary Taylor Blood, 33, of Galveston, pleaded guilty to one count that relates to transporting people in the country illegally, according to court documents.
Border Patrol officials at a checkpoint near Falfurrias, Texas, found two Mexican men inside a coffin in the back of the Dodge Caravan he was driving Oct. 26, officials said.
Blood said a “dead guy, Navy guy,” was inside the coffin, but it was rusty and dented, and a U.S. flag was attached with clear packing tape, a Border Patrol agent wrote in an affidavit filed as part of the criminal case.
Both border agents involved in the incident are military veterans.
The men inside the coffin told officials that they had paid smugglers to bring them into the U.S. from Mexico and that they were taken to a parking lot where Blood told them to get into the coffin, according to the affidavit.
Blood’s attorney, Simon Purnell, said that Blood has accepted responsibility but that he could not comment on specifics of the case before sentencing. Blood was being held in custody.
The charge carries up to five years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas said. Sentencing was set for May 11, court records show.
Blood is not accused of bringing the men into the U.S.
One of the men inside the coffin told officials that he agreed to pay $6,000 to be smuggled into the U.S. and that the other man was his cousin, according to the affidavit in the case.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.