Trunk Smuggling Driver Offered $3,500 for Diner Delivery

A man caught with two unresponsive immigrants in his trunk told border officials he would receive $3,500 for smuggling them into the U.S., according to a complaint filed in federal court Wednesday.

Nicholas George Zakov was scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon. Zakov is charged with “bringing in illegal alien(s) without presentation."

"It’s a felony offense and potentially charges will carry up to life in prison or the death penalty depending on what the sentence the court decides," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat.

The complaint identified the two men in the trunk as Tarcisio Casas-Blanco and Jose Aurelio Quiroz-Casas, both Mexican citizens.

Read the complaint here

Zakov was taken into custody Tuesday after trying to cross into the U.S. at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. According to the complaint, he confessed everything to border officers. The suspect said he had been instructed to drive to Denny’s in Chula Vista with the two men in the trunk. There, he would receive further instructions. He said he coordinated the smuggling operation with three different men in Mexico and was promised a payment of $3,500.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), officers at the border stopped an orange 2012 Dodge Challenge around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. They opened the trunk and found two men inside – a 28-year-old and 20-year-old – both unconscious and not breathing. The men were pronounced dead at the hospital, CBP officials said.

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