The driver behind the Texas truck tragedy that killed 53 people tried to pass himself off as a victim, according to authorities.
Mexican immigration leaders said Homero Zamorano, 45, falsely portrayed himself as a victim when cops arrived at the horrific scene in southwest San Antonio on Monday, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
A local cop told the paper that Zamorano was “very high on meth” when officers found him, to the point that he was hospitalized.
Zamorano was one of three men arrested in connection with the disaster. Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez — both Mexican nationals who were overstaying visas, according to police — were arrested shortly after Zamorano when authorities traced the tractor-trailer to a San Antonio-area home, according to the Express-News.
The death toll in the tragedy rose to 53 on Wednesday, as two more people discovered in the sweltering truck succumbed to their injuries at San Antonio hospitals.
Authorities discovered 46 people dead in the back of the truck when they arrived at the gruesome scene on Monday. Five more people died Tuesday and two on Wednesday. It’s the deadliest human-smuggling event ever recorded on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It was covered with bodies,” San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said Tuesday. “It was like nothing anybody had ever seen before.”
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Investigators are still looking into why Zamorano stopped the truck in a remote area near Lackland Air Force Base on a day where temperatures topped 100 degrees in the region.
On Wednesday, authorities announced there were 67 migrants in the truck, having come from across Mexico and Central America hoping for a better future in the United States.
But the shady and convoluted process of sneaking into the U.S. made identifying the victims even harder, as at least one person was carrying a stolen I.D., and the truck itself was falsely registered to the Betancourt Trucking and Harvesting company.
Authorities said 40 of the victims were men and 13 were women, though some were younger than age 18. The victims include 27 Mexicans, 14 Hondurans, seven Guatemalans and two Salvadorans.
More than 240,000 people were stopped at the border in May, according to Border Patrol statistics. That’s a 33% increase over May 2021.
Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered rigorous inspections of every truck at the border in his state. However, Abbott backed down when the strict enforcement snarled traffic and slowed supply chains. It remains unclear if the victims on board the doomed truck were already inside when it crossed the border or if they boarded near the city of Laredo, Texas.
With News Wire Services