Texan admits smuggling migrants in a US flag-draped coffin
CORPUS CHRISTI (AP) — A Texas man who transported two men from Mexico in a U.S. flag-draped coffin has pleaded guilty to human smuggling.
Zachary Taylor Blood of Galveston faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for his plea this week in federal court in Corpus Christi. He will remain in custody until his sentencing, which is scheduled for May 11.
Prosecutors say a van that Blood, 33, was driving arrived at the Border Patrol checkpoint near Falfurrias, Texas, on Oct. 26. Agents saw the coffin but noticed it was in poor condition with the U.S. flag taped to the lid with packing tape. A secondary inspection revealed two Mexican nationals inside.
The two men said they had paid a smuggler to get them to San Antonio. After crossing the border into Texas, the smuggler took them to a parking lot where Blood was waiting. Blood had them climb into the coffin and began driving north, authorities said.
2 officers wounded in Houston shooting out of hospital
HOUSTON (AP) — Two Houston police officers who were wounded in a shootout with a suspect were discharged from the hospital Friday, police said.
In a statement, the Houston Police Department said Officers N. Gadson, 35, and D. Hayden, 32, were discharged from Memorial Hermann Hospital. Officer A. Alvarez, 28, remained in stable condition Friday.
The statement also identified the man suspected of exchanging gunfire with the officers on Thursday as Roland Caballero, 31.
Caballero, who was hospitalized in stable condition Friday with a gunshot wound to the neck, has been charged with three counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer and an aggravated robbery count. It was unclear from jail and court records if he has an attorney.
The shootout came at the end of a police chase, according to authorities. Police said officers had responded to a report of a shooting at the home of Caballero’s girlfriend. When officers arrived, he fled in a vehicle and led police on a chase for several miles, police said.