53 migrants were found dead last week in what some homeland security officers are calling the deadliest human smuggling incident in U.S. History. On Wednesday it was announced that 4 individuals were arrested for orchestrating the smuggling plot.
San Antonio Police officers had been tipped off to a suspicious truck. After pursuing the vehicle, they found dozens of illegal migrants scattered around the vehicle. Some had died due to the high heat they had experienced in the back of the Semi truck, as well as starvation and lack of water as a few causes of death. The officers also found individuals who had been too weak to get themselves out of the vehicle after it had been stopped, leading officers to question how long the individuals were trapped in the back of the truck.
Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, was arrested Wednesday on criminal charges related to alleged involvement in human smuggling resulting in death. He has a lengthy criminal history dating back to the 1990s. He had been hiding within some brush on the side of the road when police had found the semi-truck
Christian Martinez, arrested on Tuesday, was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport undocumented migrants resulting in death.
Both may face life in prison or the death penalty if they are convicted.
Two other individuals, Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, have been charged with “possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the United States,” according to criminal complaints filed Monday.
Craig Larabee, Homeland Security Investigations San Antonio acting special agent in charge, had this to say on the recent trends of human smuggling:
“In the past, smuggling organizations were mom and pop. Now they are organized and tied in with the cartels. So you have a criminal organization who has no regard for the safety of the migrants. They are treated like commodities rather than people,”
ABC 17 News