CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A Texas man was ordered to federal prison on Thursday after conspiring to transport undocumented migrants within the United States.

Elias Lopez III, 35, pleaded guilty to his role in smuggling near the Sarita checkpoint on Dec. 10, 2021, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas.

Authorities discovered 24 undocumented migrants hidden among a load of watermelons in a commercial trailer, the USAO stated.

The investigation revealed some had crossed into the United States a few weeks prior and had been kept in a stash house until the arrangement of transportation through the checkpoint. Two women identified Lopez and his wife as owners and caretakers of the stash house and gave information about its location, the USAO stated.

On Thursday, Lopez was sentenced to over 2½ years in prison immediately followed by two years of supervised release.

Lopez’s wife was also charged and pleaded guilty to the offense, prosecutors said. She is set to be sentenced in March 2023.