Fort Bliss soldier gets 15 months for immigrant smuggling

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx (AP) — A Fort Bliss soldier has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for trying to smuggle two immigrants through a South Texas border checkpoint.

Joseph Edmond Cleveland of El Paso was sentenced Thursday in Corpus Christi.

Cleveland pleaded guilty to conspiracy-related human smuggling counts. Officials say Cleveland tried to use his military status to drive two immigrants through the Falfurrias (fal-FYOO’-ree-uhs) checkpoint last June.

Cleveland and another Fort Bliss soldier, Marco Antonio Nava Jr., of El Paso, were in civilian clothes with two passengers. Authorities say the immigrants were coached on responding to Border Patrol officers but lacked proper identification and were detained.

Prosecutors say Cleveland and Nava said a man had offered them $1,500 to smuggle the immigrants.

Nava also pleaded guilty to conspiracy-related counts and awaits sentencing.

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