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“It’s the deadliest incident of human smuggling in U.S history.”, an HSI representative told ABC News. On June 27th, at least 51 people were found dead inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, in an expected case of human smuggling migrants seeking a better life.
Medical examiners determined that of the 51 bodies: 39 were men and 12 were women. Rebeca Clay-Flores, the Bexar County Precinct 1 commissioner, stated that some of those bodies are likely teenagers under 18 years old.
As of this Tuesday, officials have identified at least 34 of the 51 victims. Marcelo Ebrard, Mexican Foreign Secretary, stated that 22 were Mexican nationals, seven from Guatemala, and two individuals from Honduras.
The U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told ABC News that the total number of victims was 51, and those who have been identified have been from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala.
Smuggled migrants die after being trapped in tractor-trailer
At about 5:50 pm in south-central Texas, a nearby worker heard a signal for help from the tractor-trailer and witnessed the bodies as the doors were slightly opened. Inside the trailer, there was no working air conditioning or signs of water, with temperatures surpassing 100 degrees; the people were dehydrated and experienced heat strokes.
At the scene, 46 people were pronounced dead, while the other five individuals died at the hospital. Although at a press conference, Hood asserted that 16 people (12 adults and four children) were found alive and sent to local hospitals, where they suffered from heat strokes and exhaustion, officials called this a “mass casualty event.”
Commissioner of U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Chris Magnus, told reporters, “Horrified at this tragic loss of life near San Antonio…This speaks to the desperation of migrants who would put their lives in the hands of callous human smugglers who show no regard for human life.”
Authorities are continuing the federal investigation, assisting Homeland Security Investigations to get justice for the families.
So far, three people are in custody with connections to the crime. Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio, two suspects, were both arrested for owning a weapon without being a U.S citizen. Officials discovered six guns on the men, including handguns, shotguns, and an assault rifle. Both men have expired legal visas and were arrested for possessing firearms under their immigration status. In addition, the police were able to find the driver who fled the scene after an eyewitness alerted officials. Before the suspects fled the scene, they placed a meat tenderizer on top of the bodies.
President responds to tragedy
Hood stated, “They suffered, horrendously, could have been for hours.” Officials found personal belongings near the bodies, such as Spanish praying cards and shoes.
Joe Biden, U.S President, stated, “Exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit is shameful, as is political grandstanding around tragedy, and my Administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry.”
Biden blamed the criminal smuggling industry for preying on migrants, calling the deaths “horrifying and heartbreaking.” In addition, he mentioned that the anti-smuggling campaign in the U.S has been launched with its partners, making more than 2,400 arrests.
Initially, the federal investigation was being handled by local authorities. Still, given the severity of the incident, it is not under the control of HSI, the arm of ICE responsible for breaking down smuggling networks, and CBP, the umbrella agency of the U.S Border Patrol that supports ICE.
This is not the first time San Antonio has experienced human smuggling, as back in 2017, 10 migrants were found dead in a tractor-trailer in a Walmart parking lot. However, being the second time in five years conveys the need for reform to prevent tragedies like this from reoccurring.
Wow to know that these people will go to great efforts up until and including death to come to this racist country almost makes Democrats look like they are lying about this country. As far as Biden goes for saying we are doing everything we can to stop human smuggling. Really? He can start by closing the boarders. He is upset people because they died they didn’t make it to the interior of this terrible country that everyone wants to come to. If they would have waited their turn at the boarder they would have had an air conditioned bus cater to their every need.
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