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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Texas man faces up to five years in prison after he admitted to trying to smuggle people into the U.S. in a flag-draped coffin.

Zachary Taylor Blood, 33, of Galveston, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of alien smuggling, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. Blood will be sentenced on May 11.

Prosecutors say Blood drove a gray van modified to transport caskets to a border patrol checkpoint on Oct. 26, 2021. Authorities spotted a coffin in the back of the van.

When asked what he was transporting, Blood said, “Dead guy, Navy guy,” prosecutors say. Authorities were suspicious because the coffin was in poor condition and the American flag was taped to the top with packing tape.

Law-enforcement officials inspected the coffin and found two men from Mexico inside. Both were in the U.S. illegally, prosecutors say.

The men told authorities they paid a smuggler to get them to San Antonio. They said that after crossing a river into the United States, they were taken to a parking lot where Blood was waiting for them. He had them get into the coffin and began driving north.

Blood will be held in custody until his sentencing, prosecutors say. In addition to a possible prison sentence, he also faces a fine of up to $250,000.

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