A man arrested after a controversial traffic stop by a Maine State Police trooper has been convicted of entering the United States after being removed or deported.

Mario Ernesto Garcia-Zavala, 22, a citizen of Honduras, was convicted Wednesday following non-jury trial in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Garcia-Zavala had been ordered removed to Honduras on March 29, 2014. He did not apply for permission to re-enter the U.S. and was arrested in Portland on Sept. 9, 2017, after a trooper stopped the van in which he was a passenger on Interstate 295.

Garcia-Zavala’s lawyer argued that the stop was the result of racial profiling and unlawful detention. The lawyer, Robert Andrews said the trooper who stopped the van said he did so because a front-seat passenger was not wearing a seat belt and the van had a cracked windshield, but he seemed more concerned about the passengers’ immigration status than the traffic violations.

However, federal district Judge George Singal overruled Andrews’ objections and allowed the case to move forward.

Garcia-Zavala, who will be sentenced at a later date, faces up to two years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and two years of supervised release, and will likely be returned to Honduras after he completes his sentence.


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