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LAREDO, Texas – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment against a 40-year-old Houston man on charges of conspiracy to transport 138 undocumented aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Joseph Earl Stovall is expected to appear for this arraignment before a U.S magistrate judge in Laredo in the near future.

The charges allege Stovall approached the Border Patrol Checkpoint in Freer driving a tractor trailer on Dec. 4. He was referred to secondary inspection, at which time authorities allegedly discovered a total of 138 individuals, including seven juveniles inside the trailer. All were from various countries including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

Law enforcement allegedly had to break the seal on the doors in order to open the trailer.

The complaint alleges Stovall was hired to drive the vehicle from Laredo to San Antonio via U.S. Highway 59.

If convicted, Stovall faces up to 10 years in prison as well as a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with assistance from Border Patrol. Assistance U.S. Attorney Yoona Lim is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

MIL Security OSI