Jury convicts Houstonian in human smuggling conspiracy

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VICTORIA, Texas – A federal jury has convicted a 31-year-old Houston man for conspiring to smuggle undocumented citizens within the United States, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours before convicting Francisco Javier Lapop aka Chico following a two-day trial.

During the trial, jurors heard testimony that Lapop arranged multiple trips to transport non-citizens who illegally crossed into the United States. During each transportation, Lapop’s associates drove the individuals in a box truck bearing counterfeit commercial logos. They traveled from a south Texas stash house to Houston where Lapop paid his associates.

The jury also heard he recruited others, including his brother, to assist in the crime. The investigation revealed the conspiracy spanned November 2019 to April 2021 and involved dozens of undocumented individuals.  

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The defense attempted to convince the jury the evidence was insufficient to prove Lapop was a member of the conspiracy. They ultimately did not believe those claims and convicted him as charged.  

U.S. District Judge Drew B. Tipton presided over trial and set sentencing for Sept. 16. At that time, Lapop faces up to 10 years in federal pison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Lapop was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with assistance from Kleberg County Attorney’s Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Yifei Zheng and Dennis E. Robinson are prosecuting the case.

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