More Than 50 Dead in San Antonio Migrant Smuggling Incident (UPDATE)
At least 50 dead bodies were found in an abandoned 18-wheeler in San Antonio, Texas, after a city worker heard cries for help coming from the truck.
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UPDATED 6/29, 5:50 p.m. ET: Authorities confirmed they have arrested three men in connection to the human smuggling incident that left more than 50 people dead.
According to Reuters, authorities detained a U.S. man who allegedly drove the tractor-trailer that was carrying a large group of migrants. Officials entered the abandoned 18-wheeler in San Antonio on Monday, discovering 50 dead bodies inside. Authorities say the death toll rose to 53 on Wednesday, after some of the passengers died in the hospital.
Anonymous U.S. and Mexican officials identified the alleged driver as 45-year-old Homero Zamorano. Documents reviewed by Reuters showed he resided in Houston, Texas. Sources say the driver posed as one of the victims in an effort to dodge arrest. He and two Mexican citizens—identified as Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez—were arrested this week in San Antonio. The two men were charged with possessing firearms while residing in the U.S. illegally.
Francisco Garduno, the head of Mexico’s National Migration Institute, told reporters the migrants were already in the country when they boarded the tractor-trailer. He said there was a total of 67 migrants in the vehicle; of those, 14 Hondurans, seven Guatemalans, two Salvadorans, and 27 Mexicans died. Authorities are still trying to confirm the nationalities of other victims. Forty of the victims were male and 13 were female.
See the original story below.
At least 50 people were found dead inside an abandoned 18-wheeler in San Antonio, Texas, CNN reports.
Per the Associated Press reported, the bodies are believed to be those of migrants from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, who were being smuggled across the border. According to local Police Chief William McManus, a city worker heard cries for help coming from the truck and cracked open the doors, only to find “stacks of bodies” inside. 16 survivors were taken to nearby hospitals, including four children. Two of the survivors have since died, per KSAT.
Three people have been taken into custody, but it’s not clear what they have been charged with.
“It’s tragic,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “They had families… and were likely trying to find a better life. It’s nothing short of a horrific human tragedy. … We hope that those responsible for putting these people through such inhumane conditions are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Three people have been taken into custody, but it’s not clear what they have been charged with.
The deaths were all heat-related, according to San Antonio Fire Department Chief CHarles Hood, per CBS News.
Temperatures in the San Antonio area reached over 100 degrees on Monday, and police said there was no air conditioning or water available to the people in the trailer. “They were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion,” Hood said. “It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer, but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.” It’s unclear how long the 18-wheeler sat abandoned on the road.
In a post shared on Twitter, GOP Texas governor Greg Abbott blamed the deaths on President Joe Biden. “These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies,” he wrote. “They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
Beto O’Rourke, who is running against Abbott this November, described the incident as “devastating,” and urged for the dismantling of human smuggling rings.
“I am heartbroken by the tragic loss of life today and am praying for those still fighting for their lives,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tweeted.
“Far too many lives have been lost as individuals – including families, women, and children–take this dangerous journey.”