2 Fort Bliss Soldiers Plead Guilty to Smuggling Immigrants

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Prosecutors say two Fort Bliss soldiers face up to 10-year prison terms for trying to smuggle two immigrants through a South Texas border checkpoint.

Marco Antonio Nava Jr. and Joseph Edmond Cleveland pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy-related human smuggling counts. A federal judge in Corpus Christi allowed the soldiers from El Paso to remain free on bond pending sentencing next year.

Investigators say Nava and Cleveland in June, while wearing civilian clothes, tried to drive through the Falfurrias (fal-FYOO'-ree-uhs) checkpoint with two men seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.

Authorities believe the immigrants, in the back seat, were heading for Houston and were coached on what to say to Border Patrol officers. The immigrants lacked proper identification and were detained.

Both soldiers, allegedly paid $1,500 to haul the immigrants, were arrested.

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