Two men indicted in Texas truck smuggling case in which 53 migrants died
Federal prosecutors said two men were indicted on federal charges Wednesday in the murders of 53 immigrants who died after their tractor trailer was found abandoned in San Antonio last month.
It was Homero Zamorano Jr., 46, and Christian Martinez, 28 previously accusedbut the federal grand jury on Wednesday reinstated indictments against anyone that could result in life imprisonment or the death penalty, the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas He said.
The June 27 incident is believed to be the deadliest case of human trafficking in recent US history.
Fifty adults and three children died after the car was found in San Antonio, officials said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Zamorano, of Pasadena, Texas, and Martinez of Palestine, Texas, were charged with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death, transporting illegal aliens resulting in death, and other charges.
Prosecutors said both charges carry a life sentence or death sentence.
Lawyers representing the two men did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Zamorano matched the description and was wearing the same clothes as the driver of the car seen in a surveillance video at an immigration checkpoint.
He was allegedly seen hiding in the woods, and was arrested by San Antonio police who responded to the truck, according to court documents.
Martinez’s phone showed that he had contacted Zamorano, asked where he was, and an undercover informant allegedly told investigators that Martinez had admitted involvement and had identified the driver as “Homer,” according to a criminal complaint.
According to the criminal complaint, Martinez said “the driver was unaware that the air conditioning unit had stopped working and was the cause of the individuals’ death.”
The truck was found in an undeveloped area southwest of San Antonio near the railroad tracks. Officials said that a person working in the area reported hearing a cry for help and saw at least one dead body.
Police and fire officials described arriving to find bodies inside the locomotive, and patients who felt warm to the touch.
Prosecutors said that in addition to the death-related charges, the two men were also charged with one count of conspiracy and transporting illegal aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and endangerment of life. These charges can carry up to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors said two other men arrested in connection with the smuggling investigation were charged with weapons-related charges on Wednesday.
Juan Francisco Delona Bilbao and Juan Claudio Delona Mendes are charged with possession of a firearm while illegally in the United States, US Attorney’s Office He said.
They are Mexican nationals who said they overstayed their visas, according to a criminal complaint previously filed against them.
The US attorney’s office said the men were held at separate traffic stops after leaving the San Antonio home listed on the trailer’s trailer.
A handgun was found in the truck D’Luna-Bilbao was driving, and other handguns were found in that home, according to court documents.
Neither of them has been accused of people smuggling. The US Attorney’s Office said possession of firearms carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Most who died They were from Mexico and Guatemala. Of the 53, the Bexar County Medical Examiner said, 26 were Mexicans, 21 were Guatemalans, and six were Hondurans.
Their ages ranged between 13 and 55 years. Officials said 10 adults and a child were wounded.
in 2003 case in Texas19 people died after they were left inside an airtight trailer truck in what was then called the country’s deadliest smuggling attempt.
Of the more than 70 people inside, 17 died before the abandoned truck was discovered, and two more people died later. The truck driver was sentenced to life imprisonment.