Sheren Nguyen was sentenced to three years in prison in 2012.
Prosecutors say Nguyen was transporting nine people in a Chevy Suburban when it was pulled over on Interstate 55 in Pike County on Dec. 15, 2010. Nguyen told authorities she is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Vietnam. She had a Houston, Texas, driver's license and was apparently headed for Atlanta with the people, prosecutors said.
In her appeal, Nguyen argued the traffic stop was illegal and the Mississippi court erred by refusing to suppress evidence derived from the traffic stop during which she was found to be transporting the illegal aliens.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Tuesday that the traffic stop was justified.
"Nguyen was weaving on the roadway, her license plate was partially obscured, and a computer check of the license plate indicated that there was no record of it. And the stop was reasonable in scope. Only 10 minutes passed between the initial stop and Nguyen's consent to search the car, and the computer checks and citation writing had not yet been completed," the panel said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Bradley Byrd had said in an affidavit that three of nine were male juveniles from Guatemala, Honduras and India.
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