Two men were charged Wednesday in the case of a tractor-trailer in which 53 migrants were found dead or dying in San Antonio, authorities said.
A federal grand jury in San Antonio He filed charges of transporting and criminal association to illegally transport migrants resulting in death; and of transporting and criminal association to illegally transport migrants resulting in serious injuries, against Homero Zamorano Jr., 46, and Christian Martinez, 28, both from Pasadena, Texas.
The two defendants remain in federal custody without bond pending trial. Martinez’s attorney, David Shearer, declined to comment on the allegations. Zamorano’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
If they are found guilty on the charges related to the deaths of the migrants could be sentenced to life imprisonment but the attorney general’s office could authorize prosecutors request the death penalty. The serious injury charges carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison.
This is the worst tragedy in terms of the number of deaths of migrants smuggled across the border with Mexico. The truck was carrying 73 people, and among the dead were 27 Mexicans, 14 Hondurans, seven Guatemalans and two Salvadorans, said Francisco Garduño, director of the National Migration Institute.
Among those who died in the truck were migrants from Guanajuato, Veracruz, Oaxaca, State of Mexico, Zacatecas, Querétaro and Mexico City.
The incident occurred on a remote rural road in San Antonio on June 27. Police officers who arrived at the scene arrested Zamorano after discovering him hiding in nearby bushes, according to a statement from the federal prosecutor’s office. An inspection of Zamorano’s cell phone revealed calls with Martinez about the human smuggling operation.
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