4 men charged after 53 migrants were found dead in trailer in San Antonio, DOJ says

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Thursday, June 30, 2022
4 charged in deaths of 53 migrants in trailer in San Antonio, DOJ says
Four people have been arrested and charged in connection with the tragedy in San Antonio where 53 migrants were found dead in a trailer, according to the DOJ.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Four people have been arrested and charged in connection with the tragedy in San Antonio where 53 migrants were found dead in a tractor-trailer, according to the justice department.

Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, was arrested on Wednesday for his alleged involvement in the incident, according to a release from the Department of Justice.

On June 27, Homeland Security Investigators responded to the scene of a human smuggling event involving a tractor-trailer and 64 people suspected of entering the U.S. illegally, according to documents.

At the scene, San Antonio police found multiple people, some still inside the trailer, some on the ground and in a nearby bush, and many of them dead.

Among the dead were 27 people from Mexico, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala, and two from El Salvador, he said. One of the victims had no identification, Garduño said.

SEE ALSO: 53 killed in migrant trailer-tractor were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, officials say

Zamorano was apprehended after trying to pretend he was one of the migrants, but HSI agents said that video from Laredo Border Patrol confirmed he was the truck driver as his clothing matched what was seen on the footage, according to the DOJ.

Zamorano, who is from Brownsville but lives in Pasadena, is charged by criminal complaint with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death.

The second person charged is 28-year-old Christian Martinez, who was arrested on Tuesday in Palestine, Texas. He is charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death.

According to the justice department, a warrant for Zamorano's cell phone revealed a conversation between him and Martinez, concerning the smuggling event.

SEE ALSO: 'Not the time to start fear-mongering:' Advocate believes open border would stop extreme cases

Juan Claudio D'Luna-Mendez, 23, and Juan Francisco D'Luna-Bilbao, 48, both citizens of Mexico, were also arrested, according to the DOJ.

According to the DOJ, documents show the registration for the tractor-trailer used in the attempted alien smuggling event came back to a residence in San Antonio.

Officers surveilled the residence and saw the two men leaving in separate trucks. D'Luna-Mendez and D'Luna-Bilbao were both arrested during a traffic stop.

The tragedy in San Antonio occurred at a time when huge numbers of migrants have been coming to the U.S., many of them taking perilous risks to cross swift rivers and canals and scorching desert landscapes. Migrants were stopped nearly 240,000 times in May, up by one-third from a year ago.

With little information about the victims, desperate families of migrants from Mexico and Central America frantically sought word of their loved ones.

SEE ALSO: US works on slow process of identifying migrants found dead in San Antonio truck, toll rises to 53

Several survivors were in critical condition with injuries such as brain damage and internal bleeding, according to Rubén Minutti, the Mexico consul general in San Antonio.