A Florida man is expected to appear in federal court today after 10 people died in San Antonio, Texas, in what officials called an immigrant-smuggling attempt “gone horribly wrong.”
A total of 39 people, including children, were recovered from the stifling hot tractor-trailer parked outside a San Antonio Walmart this weekend. Ten people, all adult men, died, and 29 people were being treated at hospitals, officials said. Many experienced heat stroke and dehydration, officials said.
The truck was discovered early-Sunday morning by San Antonio firefighters and police after a Walmart employee called late-Saturday for a welfare check when someone asked the employee for water, officials said.
The responding authorities “discovered an alien-smuggling venture gone horribly wrong,” U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin Jr. of the Western District of Texas said in a statement.
“All were victims of ruthless human smugglers indifferent to the well-being of their fragile cargo,” he said. “The South Texas heat is punishing this time of year. These people were helpless in the hands of their transporters. Imagine their suffering, trapped in a stifling trailer in 100-plus-degree heat.”
Durbin added, “The driver is in custody and will be charged. We will work with the Homeland Security Investigations and the local responders to identify those who were responsible for this tragedy.”
James Mathew Bradley, Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Florida, is being held in federal custody in connection with the incident, federal officials said, and a criminal complaint is expected to be filed in federal court in San Antonio this morning.
It was not immediately clear whether Bradley was the driver, according to The Associated Press.
“The horrific crime uncovered last night ranks as a stark reminder of why human smugglingnetworks must be pursued, caught and punished,” Acting Director Thomas Homan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.
Homan said it was unlikely the tractor-trailer was used to carry the immigrants across the Mexican border into the United States, the AP reported.
More than 100 people may have been in the trailer at one point, Homan said, according to the AP.