SAN ANTONIO (Nation World News) — Two men have been charged in connection with the deaths of 51 migrants who were found suffocating in a truck in San Antonio, according to criminal complaints filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas.
Juan Claudio d’Luna-Mendez and Juan Francisco d’Luna-Bilbao were charged with “illegal possession of a weapon in the United States by a foreigner,” according to criminal complaints filed Monday, the same day the migrants were found. . According to the affidavit, officers were able to trace the men after responding to the truck incident.
“Agents examined the Texas registration plate on the truck and found the San Antonio, Texas residence as the truck’s registered address along with Texas motor vehicle records,” the affidavit said.
The San Antonio Police Department set up surveillance at the residence “and saw a Ford F-250 leaving the house with a single Hispanic male at the wheel.” According to the affidavit, the man, identified as D’Luna-Bilbao, had a shotgun in the console.
In the same house, officers spotted another truck whose driver, a young man, was identified as D’Luna-Mendez.
According to the affidavit, both the men are citizens of Mexico who are living illegally in the US. Nation World News has not been able to determine whether one of them is a lawyer.
What do we know about the truck where the dead migrants were found
Police Chief Bill McManus said officers were alerted to the scene just before 6 p.m. Monday, when an employee in a nearby building heard a cry for help. He said the worker found a trailer with its doors partially open and saw dead people inside.
The truck passed through a checkpoint north of Laredo, Texas on Monday, said US Representative Henry Kueller, which represents a district that includes Laredo and San Antonio, which are about 150 miles apart. Kueller spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyerkas on Tuesday and got in touch with the US Border Patrol, he told Nation World News.
Felipe Betancourt Jr., co-owner of Betancourt Trucking & Harvesting in Alamo, Texas, told Nation World News Tuesday that the Semi used the same federal and state identification numbers as one of its vehicles. He said images of the truck showed it displayed his company’s federal Department of Transportation (DOT) number and the Texas DOT identification number of one of his trucks. This was first reported by the San Antonio Express-News.
Betancourt said the truck in San Antonio, which is the same color as its red Volvo Semi, is not owned by his company. A search of the US DOT and Texas DOT numbers posted on the truck found in San Antonio revealed that the numbers were registered to Betancourt’s company.
“We’re not connected to that truck at all,” Betancourt said. “We don’t know whose vehicle it is.”
The migrants found in the truck come from three countries
The dead included migrants from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The medical examiner’s office has potentially identified 34 of the 51 victims, Bexar County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rebecca Clay-Flores said during a news conference Tuesday. The county medical examiner has also sought help from neighboring county medical examiner offices due to the high number of victims.
Forty-eight people died on the spot and two more died in hospitals, a federal law enforcement official told Nation World News on Tuesday, adding that the number of victims is preliminary.
San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said at a news conference Monday night that sixteen people — 12 adults and four children — were alerted to survival and medical facilities.
“This is the worst human trafficking incident in America. It highlights how dangerous human trafficking is,” said special agent Craig Larrabee, in charge of the San Antonio Homeland Security Investigations.
“In the past, smuggling organizations were mom and pop. Now they’re organized and linked to cartels. So you have a criminal organization that doesn’t take into account the safety of migrants. With them like goods instead of people. Behaved,” he told Nation World News in a phone interview.
The discovery comes after US federal officials described it as an “unprecedented” operation to disrupt people-smuggling networks amid an influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border.
Police Chief Bill McManus told a news conference Monday night that three people had been taken into custody and were in police custody, although their connection to the situation was unclear. It is not clear whether the two accused are among the three people arrested.
Migrants were ‘too weak’ from the heat to help themselves
Hood said the migrants found in the truck were hot to the touch and suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion. The refrigerator semi-trailer did not have a working air conditioning unit, and there was no sign of water inside, he said. The official said it was not clear how long the people inside the truck had died.
According to the National Weather Service, the high temperature in the San Antonio area on Monday was between 32 and 37 degrees Celsius.
“None of these people were able to get out of the truck,” Hood said. “So, they were still there, waiting for help, when we arrived … meaning they were too weak, in a vulnerable position, to go out and help themselves.”
U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff for the Western District of Texas said the migrants were “clear victims of human traffickers who were indifferent to the welfare of human life.”
“We will continue to work with the Homeland Security Investigations and local first responders to identify and bring those responsible for this tragedy to justice,” he said.
Federal police agents said at least 22 Mexicans and two Hondurans were among those traveling in the truck. The Guatemalan foreign minister told Nation World News that seven of the dead were Guatemalans, and another Guatemalan was in critical condition in a hospital.
President Joe Biden described the finding as “horrifying and heartbreaking”, adding that the deaths underscore the need to go after criminal trafficking networks.
“Exploiting vulnerable people for profit is shameful, as is the political stigma surrounding the tragedy, and my administration continues to do everything possible to prevent human traffickers and smugglers from hunting people seeking to enter the United States. Will keep.” admission,” Biden said.
Firefighters saw “a lot of bodies”
“I am saddened by the tragic loss of life today and pray for those who are still fighting for their lives,” Meyerkas said on social media. “Many lives have been lost, including families, women and children, who embarked on this dangerous journey.”
Hood said all 60 firefighters who were at the scene are under serious stress report of the incident.
“We shouldn’t open a truck and see piles of bodies there. None of us come to work imagining it,” the fire chief said.
Hood said when firefighters arrived, one of the bodies was outside the trailer.
Businessmen in the area where the trailer was found told Nation World News they were in shock.
Israel Martinez, 68, co-owner of USA Auto Parts, said, “They were human, it was terrifying. We (immigrants) came to this country to live a better life and what happened yesterday reminded me that many of us Unhappy we succeed, but many others do not.
US officials are working to better manage the flow of migrants toward the US-Mexico border, Meyercas told Nation World News earlier this month. Their operation builds on earlier attempts by smugglers to go after migrants as they make their way to the border. Last spring, the Department of Homeland Security also announced an effort to crack down on criminal organizations with federal partners as well as trafficking.
In recent years, migrants have faced dangerous heat and other tragedies and challenges the terrain endures as they attempt to cross the US-Mexico border.
The ransom on the southern border of the United States is higher than in the previous fiscal year. According to US Customs and Border Protection, since October, more than 14,000 searches and rescues have been conducted along the southern US border, including rescues at dangerous water crossings. That’s over 12,833 search and rescues in fiscal year 2021, with a time span of more than three months.
In 2017, 10 people died and dozens were injured from heat-related conditions after they were discovered in a tractor trailer at a San Antonio Walmart. The truck driver was sentenced to life in federal prison without parole.
Investigators said that in 2003, 18 victims aged 7 to 91 were found dead along with about 100 others in the back of a truck when temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The driver was initially sentenced to life in that case, but was again sentenced to nearly 34 years in prison in 2011.
Heat has not been the only threat to migrants stranded in vehicles. In March 2021, a truck carrying 25 people collided with an SUV in an isolated part of California’s Imperial Valley, killing 13 undocumented immigrants.
– Nation World News’s Carolyn Sung, Michelle Watson, Karol Suarez, Kevin Liptak, Jason Hanna, Sharif Paget, Jane Deaton, Amanda Jackson and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.