Smuggling Chinese citizen lands Houstonian behind federal bars
CORPUS CHRISTI -- A 45-year-old Houston man has been ordered to prison in Corpus Christi federal court following his conviction for transporting an undocumented Chinese national, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
The jury deliberated for approximately two hours before convicting Torrie Franklin Feb. 4 following a one-day trial.
Today, U.S. District Judge David S. Morales ordered Franklin to serve a 42-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release.
On Nov. 12, 2019, Franklin drove a blue four-door sedan into the primary inspection lane at the Border Patrol (BP) Checkpoint located near Falfurrias. Upon his arrival, authorities conducted a routine inspection, at which time a K-9 alerted to the trunk of the vehicle. There, they found an undocumented Chinese national.
At the time of his arrest, Franklin told authorities he had encountered the man at a gas station. Franklin claimed the Chinese national asked for a ride to Houston, despite not knowing any English. He also said the man asked to ride in the trunk as opposed to inside the vehicle.
At trial, the jury heard from the Chinese national who said Franklin was the person who placed him inside the trunk. They also heard excerpts of Franklin’s phone calls in which he admitted his role in the offense.
The defense attempted to convince the jury that Franklin was merely a good Samaritan just providing a ride. They did not believe his claims and ultimately found him guilty as charged.
Franklin has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
BP conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Neel Kapur and Barbara De Pena are prosecuting the case.