Four people have officially been charged for their roles in a deadly smuggling operation after allegedly leaving dozens of migrants to die in the back of a sweltering 18-wheeler in San Antonio earlier this week.
Homero Zamorano Jr., the 45-year-old alleged driver of the truck, has been charged with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death, the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas announced late Wednesday.
Zamorano was found hiding in a bush near the truck and taken into custody by San Antonio officers, officials said. He was wearing the same clothes as the driver captured on surveillance footage at an immigration checkpoint.
Christian Martinez, 28, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death and investigators found communications between him and Zamorano “concerning the smuggling event,” according to the Department of Justice.
Two Mexican citizens, 23-year-old Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez and 48-year-old Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, 48, were charged with one count of possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the U.S. Investigators staking out a San Antonio residence linked to the registration for the tractor trailer allegedly spotted both men leaving the house in separate trucks. During a traffic stop, officials found a gun in D’Luna-Bilboa’s truck, according to the DOJ. More weapons were found at the house.
Neither D’Luna-Mendez nor D’Luna-Bilbao have been formally accused of smuggling.
Police responded to the scene Monday afternoon after 911 calls about an abandoned truck, according to the official report. There, they found bodies scattered, some still inside the truck, some outside on the road and in the bushes.
Forty-eight people were declared dead at the scene, including 22 Mexican nationals, seven Guatemalan nationals and two Honduran nationals, and 16 were taken to local hospitals; five of those have since died.
The truck had no working air conditioning and there were no signs of water for the migrants, San Antonio Police Chief William P. McManus said Tuesday. Temperatures Monday reached 103 degrees in San Antonio and many of the victims were reportedly hot to the touch.
Identification has been slow as most if not all of the people in the truck were illegal immigrants.