Tyler man pleads guilty to trafficking 9 undocumented immigrants in Smith County

Jorge Orellano plead guilty to a 3rd-degree felony charge of Smuggling of persons Wednesday...
Jorge Orellano plead guilty to a 3rd-degree felony charge of Smuggling of persons Wednesday morning.(Smith County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 10:41 AM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A 21-year-old Honduran man pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of smuggling of persons Wednesday in Smith County.

According to a Texas DPS arrest affidavit, a trooper was working patrol on Interstate 20 on November 23, 2020, when he saw a 2003 Ford Expedition driven by Jorge Orellano going 78 mph in a 65 mph construction zone.

After Orellano was pulled over, the affidavit states that the trooper reported seeing nine people in the vehicle, who were later determined to be illegal immigrants.

Orellano accepted a plea agreement from the state to serve five years in the Texas Department of Corrections and waived his right to a jury trial.

“Yes, Yes, Yes, I declare myself guilty,” stated Orellano in Spanish at the beginning of the hearing.

However, 7th District Court Judge Kerry Russell pointed out that Orellano hadn’t yet reached the part of the hearing where a defendant declares one’s self innocent or guilty and he reminded the defendant of his Fifth Amendment right, and his right to bring forth witnesses in the case.

“Yes but I declare myself guilty,” Orellano said through his translator.

The judge proceeded with the hearing and asked if Orellano was an American citizen.

“No, I am from Honduras,” said Orellano in Spanish.

Russell proceeded to explain to Orellano what the consequences were for pleading guilty and not being a citizen.

Russell continued with the hearing and asked Orellano if he understood the charges against him and if he understood what the plea agreement would be from the state he would serve five years in the Texas Department of Corrections if he chose to plead guilty. Russell then asked Orellano if he was sure he wanted to take the plea agreement.

“Yes I am guilty,” Orellano said.

Russell accepted the plea and declared Orellano guilty and sentenced him to serve five years in TDC.

When Orellano was asked if he was satisfied with the outcome of today’s hearing he replied

“Everything is good thank God, and thank you very much,” said Orellano in Spanish to Russell

In a calm voice, Russell responded “I wish you luck.”

Originally, according to the state’s report, Orellano admitted to carrying the people from Houston and taking them to Atlanta, Georgia, and Maryland to receive a monetary reward.

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