OKALOOSA CO., Fla. (WALA) - A human smuggler from Honduras apprehended by Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 10 last year has been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison.

Authorities say Edwin Tercero and five other occupants of his vehicle were pulled over by OCSO deputies as part of an “Operation Stonegarden” patrol in February 2019.

Operation Stonegarden is a U.S. Border Patrol/Federal Emergency Management Agency grant program designed to enhance border security through partnerships with state, local, and tribal agencies along key transportation routes into the United States.

Officials say during the traffic stop, Border Patrol agents were called for assistance and found all six occupants in the car were in the country illegally, and that Tercero had previously been arrested by United States Border Patrol in May 2018 in Gulfport on suspicion of alien smuggling and illegal activity. They say he escaped after assaulting the Border Patrol officer.

Tercero was sentenced to 24 months in connection with the 2018 case. The 46-month sentence will run consecutively.

“I commend the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and the Offices of the United States Attorneys in Florida and Mississippi for working alongside the U.S. Border Patrol to remove a violent, repeat-offender, illegal alien from the streets," said New Orleans sector Chief Patrol Agent Gregory Bovino. "This person took advantage of the recent humanitarian crisis along our nation’s Southwest Border to smuggle human beings for profit, but his conviction is a stark reminder that what happens along our borders affects communities throughout our Nation. Those who choose to partake in this illegal activity will be arrested." 

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