A truck driver suspected of suffocating immigrants pretending to be a survivor may have been taking drugs


A man pays homage to where authorities found dozens of migrants dead on a semi-trailer.

A man pays homage to where authorities found dozens of people killed in a trailer truck carrying immigrants. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Became a truck driver full of immigrants Who died In the heat of Texas this week, you could face the death penalty for his role in one of the deadliest trafficking cases in US history.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged and killed 45-year-old Homero Zamorano Jr. in smuggling immigrants as the total number of deaths in the case increased to 53.

Federal prosecutors have also charged 28-year-old Christian Martinez in a plot to transport undocumented migrants to death. If convicted, he may also face the death penalty. Mobile phone records are said to indicate that he and Zamorano had contacted about the smuggling attempt.

A large rig was found near a railroad track in San Antonio’s industrial area on Monday night after workers heard a cry for help.

When the first respondents arrived, they “discovered multiple individuals, some still in the tractor trailer, some on the ground and in nearby brushes, many, according to a statement from the U.S. law firm. Died and some were incompetent. ” Forty-eight people were declared dead at the scene, and five more would later die in the hospital.

Authorities found nearby Zamorano “hidden in a brush,” according to a statement.

U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the suspected U.S. citizen initially pretended to be an immigrant and appeared to be under the influence of drugs. He was taken to the hospital.

According to prosecutors, surveillance video showed Samorano driving a trailer truck through an immigration office near the Texas border city of Laredo early Monday. Zamorano “was in the same outfit as the individual from the surveillance footage,” the statement said.

First responders said there were no signs of water or air conditioning on the truck, even if the temperature in San Antonio on Monday was around 100 degrees Celsius. Law enforcement officials haven’t revealed why the truck stopped in San Antonio, but some speculate that it might have been a mechanical problem.

After crossing the border on foot, migrants are frequently pushed into car trunks and tractor trailers by smugglers to avoid detection at border crossings throughout southern Texas.

Zamorano has a long criminal record, according to court records and interviews with his sister.

According to Texas Corrections Bureau records, he was sent to jail in 2016 and 2017 for about 15 months because he bailed up and did not appear in court. Prior to that, he had been in the burglary for nearly three years since 2000.

His sister Tomasita Medina said Zamorano was the eldest of three brothers who grew up in the border city of Brownsville, about 280 miles southeast of San Antonio.

Around the age of 14, when her relatives called her a “homer,” she said Zamorano was caught up in drugs and dropped out of school around the sixth grade.

“That’s why we really never see him,” she said. That is why he is always inside and outside our lives. “

She said Zamorano moved frequently. After Medina and her family settled there in 1998, they moved from the border to eastern Texas, southern Florida, and finally Houston. Behind the bar, Medina said.

Medina last met her brother a few months ago when she visited for a week to help her brother’s garden work. He was always himself, “stupid” and “he’s always joking,” she said.

Medina said she was shocked to see news reports that her brother was arrested in connection with the death of a tractor trailer on Wednesday. All she could think of was that he was involved because of his drug habits.

“Maybe they offered him drugs and drug money, otherwise I don’t think he did it,” she said.

Mr Medina said the arrest was particularly painful as the family had roots in Matamoros, Mexico, across the Brownsville border.

“I’m devastated on both sides. It’s difficult because we’re from an immigrant family. My dad was born and raised in Mexico.”

A total of four people were charged with death. Two US Mexicans (Juan Francisco Dorna Bilbao and Juan Claudio Dornamendez) were charged with illegal possession of firearms after police tracked the truck’s registration to San Antonio’s address and monitored the house. A criminal complaint was filed against them on Tuesday.

The tragedy is not the first time smugglers have stuffed trailers with migrants with fatal consequences.

10 people in 2017 Died After they were left on a tractor trailer outside Wal-Mart in San Antonio.Driver James Matthew Bradley Jr. Judgment Life imprisonment without parole.

In 2003, 19 immigrants died after being abandoned in a trailer at a truck stop south of San Antonio. The driver, Tyrone Mapletoft Williams, has been convicted and sentenced to nearly 34 years in prison.

Hennessy-Fisque was reported from San Antonio, Winton from Los Angeles, Linsicum from Mexico City, and Aleaziz from Healdsburg, California. Cecilia Sanchez of the Times’ Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.

This story was originally Los Angeles Times..