Duo charged with smuggling 53 people in horse trailer, truck

Two men are facing federal charges over accusations they were attempting to smuggle 53 people in the country illegally inside a Ford truck pulling a horse trailer.

The incident occurred at 8:30 a.m. Monday in Kenedy County after Border Patrol received information that the truck and horse trailer had been involved in a pursuit with sheriff’s deputies there, but had not been apprehended, according to a criminal complaint.

At around 9 a.m., a Border Patrol agent traveling southbound on Highway 77 noticed the suspect vehicle, but lost track of it before catching up to the truck and horse trailer.

Twenty minutes later, another Border Patrol agent spotted the vehicle traveling northbound on Highway 77.

The Border Patrol agent activated his lights and sirens to pull the vehicle over, which pulled off to the frontage road.

As it stopped, a passenger later identified as Nishil Patel, and several people suspected to be in the country illegally, fled the scene while the driver, Brayan Aldeir Nicolas-Ramirez, stepped out and surrendered, according to a criminal complaint.

A Texas game warden with a canine arrived, as did more Border Patrol agents and troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, as authorities apprehended 53 people in the country illegally, which includes Nicolas, the driver.

Patel was also apprehended.

Nicolas gave a full confession, according to Border Patrol.

“Nicolas stated he has been neighbors with Patel for several years. Nicolas also stated Patel hired him to smuggle a load of (people) with him from the Rio Grande Valley … to Houston, TX,” the complaint stated.

Nicolas told investigators that he and Patel were being paid $300 per person, according to the complaint.

“Nicolas stated he knew the subjects, who were concealed in the trailer, the bed of the pickup, and in the cab of the pickup, were (in the country illegally),” the complaint stated.

Patel and Nicolas are charged with bringing in and harboring people in the country illegally and made a first appearance in federal court in Corpus Christi on Wednesday morning.