Trucker sentenced to 7 years in prison for role in migrant smuggling ring

Updated Jun 2, 2024
Jail cell

A Dallas truck driver was sentenced in a federal court in San Antonio to 84 months in prison for conspiracy to transport undocumented noncitizens.

According to court documents, Sedrick Zelitis Smith, 47, was a member of a human smuggling organization, coordinating transport of migrants who arrived in Laredo from Mexico, serving as the go-between for the organization's leadership and load drivers during smuggling events, and assisting in the theft and procurement of tractor-trailers. On multiple occasions, Smith traveled between Dallas, San Antonio and Laredo to assist with smuggling loads. He also served as a driver for the organization, smuggling migrants from Laredo to San Antonio, using his commercial driver’s license.

Smith’s arrest was the result of an investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations beginning in May 2021. Agents learned that the human smuggling organization had smuggled more than 900 migrants from Laredo to San Antonio inside tractor-trailers at least 19 times.. The loads ranged from about 30 migrants to more than 100 packed into a single trailer.

“Justice was served for a human smuggler responsible for coordinating the transportation of hundreds of noncitizens from Laredo to San Antonio. These noncitizens were crammed into tractor-trailers, during multiple smuggling events in the stifling Texas heat,” said Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee for HSI San Antonio. “HSI is committed to aggressively target human smugglers and smuggling organizations who continually victimize people for profit.”

Nine others have been indicted in the case. Bryan Adamson, Ronnie Joe Branch, Eliseo Loredo, Rodney Edward Shavers, Mark Algie Holliday, Francisco Arredondo-Colmenero, and Debbie Marie Gonzales await court proceedings.

Fredi Zagala-Servin was sentenced in April to 97 months in prison for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. Norman Lee Walker Jr. was arrested May 21.

“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,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “I appreciate the dedication of our partners at HSI and our Joint Task Force Alpha initiative. Their efforts have been essential in taking down this HSO and many others. We’ll continue to dismantle these groups and serve justice together.”