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Military veteran who smuggled people in flag-draped coffin pleads guilty

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

The man accused of trying to smuggle two cousins from Mexico through the Falfurrias checkpoint in a “pseudo hearse” with an American flag-draped coffin plead guilty Tuesday to smuggling people in the country illegally.

Zachary Taylor Blood, 33, entered his plea in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Julie K. Hampton, court records show.

Border Patrol arrested Blood on Oct. 26, 2021, at the Falfurrias checkpoint after an agent, himself a military veteran, was immediately suspicious of the “rusty and dented coffin” inside the “pseudo hearse” that arrived at the checkpoint at approximately 12:05 p.m. that day, according to a criminal complaint.

When the agent asked Blood what was in the vehicle, Blood said: “Dead guy, Navy guy.”

Border Patrol reported that the American flag that was taped to the coffin with clear packaging tape was also zip-tied to one corner.

Another agent who was also a veteran asked for consent to open the vehicle’s back door while his canine simultaneously alerted to the rear hatch of the vehicle, according to the complaint.

Both agents knew from prior experience that the manner in which Blood was transporting the coffin was not standard protocol for military funeral processions, Border Patrol said.

During a secondary inspection, agents found the two cousins who later told investigators they were trying to get to San Antonio.

Both men also told agents the coffin was hot and they had trouble breathing.

Blood is scheduled for sentencing on May 11, court records indicate.


(c) 2022 The Monitor

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