4 Federally Accused in San Antonio Migrant Smuggling Case. Death Toll Rises To 53


Federal officials stated that the deaths of 53 migrants in San Antonio, which was the most serious human smuggling incident U.S. history, led to four men being arrested and charged.

The migrants were found allegedly abandoned in a sweltering Texas semi truck on Monday after a worker heard cries for help. Authorities said that the death toll rose to 53 on Wednesday, after another 46 people died in local hospitals.

Homero Zamorano Jr. (45), a U.S citizen who lives in Texas was arrested Wednesday. He was criminally charged with human trafficking resulting in death.

Zamorano, who is alleged to be the driver of the tractor-trailer trucks, was taken into custody by the Justice Department after he was discovered hiding in the brush after trying escape.

Mexican officials revealed Wednesday that he had initially attempted to present himself as one the survivors.

Christian Martinez (28), was arrested Tuesday in Palestine, Texas. The DOJ stated that he was being charged with one count for conspiracy to transport undocumented migrants resulting death.

Federal authorities indicated that both men could face life or death sentences if convicted.

Two Mexican citizens, Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, 23, and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, 48, were arrested Monday and each charged with one count of possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the U.S., federal authorities said.

The two could face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison if they are found guilty.

At the hellish scene on Monday, law enforcement officers found 64 migrants suspected of entering the United States without authorization, federal officials said. Many were found inside the trailer while others were discovered in the woods, either dead or incapacitated.

Craig Larrabee, a Homeland Security Investigations agent, called to report the incident “horrific” “eye-opening”In an interview with CBS News

Larrabee claimed that large-scale smuggling is now being done in connection with the drug cartels that operate in border areas. “You have organizations that simply do not care about the safety of the individuals they’re transporting,”He stated. “It’s a commodity.”

CNN’s William McManus, San Antonio Police Chief, said that the scene was “beyond tragic,”Officers initially hoped to rescue trapped people. Instead, they discovered “the floor of the trailer, it was completely covered in bodies. Completely covered in bodies,”He stated.

“This was a crime against humanity. This was nothing but pure evil, that someone could allow this to happen, to anyone, let alone that many people,”The chief said. 

Authorities said that the truck was not air-conditioned and that there was no water at the scene. The temperatures were high at 100 degrees.

Federal prosecutors have requested that D’Luna-Mendez and D’Luna-Bilbao be held without bond. Their hearings are scheduled to take place on Friday.

According to authorities, all four men are currently in federal custody. A court hearing has not been scheduled for Martinez and Zamorano was scheduled for a U.S. Magistrate hearing in San Antonio Thursday afternoon.