A man is under arrest after Border Patrol says he drove a “pseudo hearse” to the Falfurrias checkpoint, claiming to be transporting the remains of a deceased Navy veteran in what was determined to be a sham funeral procession.
Within that vehicle, which Border Patrol says was driven by Zachary Taylor Blood, was a “rusty and dented coffin” where agents found two people crammed inside who were determined to be in the country illegally, according to a criminal complaint.
The alleged smuggling attempt occurred Tuesday at around 12:05 p.m.
During the initial encounter, the primary agent, himself a military veteran, asked Blood what he was hauling in the cargo area.
“Blood replied to the agent, ‘Dead guy, Navy guy.’ The primary agent, who is a prior military veteran, proceeded to look towards the cargo area and immediately noticed a rusty and dented coffin,” the complaint stated.
Border Patrol says an American flag was crudely taped on the coffin with clear packaging tape and zip-tied to one corner.
A canine handler, who was also a veteran, asked for consent to open the door while the dog simultaneously alerted to the rear hatch of the vehicle, according to the complaint.
This agent also observed the same discrepancies as the primary agent because due to his prior experience, he knew this was not standard protocol for military funeral processions, agents said in the complaint.
Border Patrol then directed Blood to secondary for a more thorough inspection where agents discovered the two men, who are cousins, inside the coffin, authorities say.
Blood declined to speak to Border Patrol investigators without the presence of an attorney, and the cousins, who had illegally crossed the Rio Grande on Monday, said the temperature in the coffin was hot and that they had difficulty breathing, according to the complaint.
Blood was scheduled to make an initial appearance Thursday morning in Corpus Christi federal court in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchel Neurock, court records indicate.
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