Man sentenced to prison for transporting hundreds of migrants through San Antonio, other Texas cities

SAN ANTONIO – A Dallas man was sentenced to seven years in prison this week for his alleged involvement in transporting migrants through San Antonio and throughout the state.

Sedrick Zelitis Smith, 47, was first arrested by Homeland Security Investigations in May 2021.

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Smith was considered a key member of a 10-person human smuggling operation that transported more than 900 migrants from Laredo to San Antonio inside large 18-wheelers at least 19 different times, court documents said.

According to the Department of Justice, the big rigs contained as few as approximately 30 migrants and as many as more than 100 migrants packed into a single 18-wheeler.

Authorities said Smith often served as a connection between the drivers of 18-wheelers and the migrant smuggling operation’s leadership. Smith was also hands-on as he helped steal and drive 18-wheelers on his commercial driver’s license, officials said.

Agents said the migrants arrived in Laredo from Mexico. Smith would often travel to Laredo and offered assistance to smuggling migrants in San Antonio as well as Dallas.

In addition to Smith, nine people have also been indicted in connection with the migrant smuggling operation. Fredi Zagala-Servin was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison on a Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens charge.

Another suspect, Norman Lee Walker, Jr., was arrested on May 21, the DOJ said.

The other seven suspects — Bryan Adamson, Ronnie Joe Branch, Eliseo Loredo, Rodney Edward Shavers, Mark Algie Holliday, Francisco Arredondo-Colmenero and Debbie Marie Gonzales — will have their own trials at undisclosed dates.

“With the rise of human smuggling in recent years, it is absolutely critical that we send a message to criminals throughout all levels of these organizations that their crimes at the expense of vulnerable individuals are serious, they are dangerous, and we are here to readily prosecute,” U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas said in a press release Thursday afternoon. “I appreciate the dedication of our partners at HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) and our Joint Task Force Alpha initiative. Their efforts have been essential in taking down this HSO (human smuggling operation) and many others. We’ll continue to dismantle these groups and serve justice together.”

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