Texas Truck Tragedy: Death Toll Climbs To 53 As Four Men Are Charged

Four men have been charged in connection to the abandoned truck found in Texas in which dozens of people were found dead.
credit: Xinhua / Alamy
On Monday, officials found what they described as "stacks of bodies" inside an abandoned 18-wheeler truck in San Antonio at the 9600 block of Quintana Road.

Emergency services were alerted to the vehicle after a worker in a nearby building heard "cries for help" coming from the vehicle.

City officials later revealed that those on board the truck were undocumented migrants who were being trafficked into the United States from Mexico. However, as temperatures reached 103°F (39°C) in San Antonio, those onboard were struck down with "heat stroke and heat exhaustion".

Officials say that although the vehicle was a refrigerated truck, the system didn't appear to be working and no water was provided to those inside.
Credit: Xinhua / Alamy
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the death toll has now risen to 53, as two of the people initially transported to a nearby hospital for treatment sadly passed away.

The incident has become the deadliest migrant-trafficking incident in modern US history.

Additionally, four men have now been arrested and charged in connection to the tragedy.

The US Justice Department has stated that 45-year-old Texas native Homero Zamorano Jr. was arrested near the scene after being found by police hiding in a bush. Zamorano Jr. is believed to be the truck's driver. He has been charged a criminal complaint with one count of "alien smuggling resulting in death".

The Head of Mexico's National Migration Institute, Francisco Garduno, told reporters on Wednesday that Zamorano Jr. had attempted to pass himself off as one of the survivors.
People have created a memorial near the location of the truck. Credit: Sipa US / Alamy
A 28-year-old man by the name of Christian Martinez was also arrested on Tuesday, and later charged with a single count of "conspiracy to transport illegal aliens".

Martinez was linked to Zamorano Jr. after police uncovered communications between the two on the latter's cell phone.

Two other men - who the US Justice Department has named as Mexican nationals Juan Francisco D'Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D'Luna-Mendez - were arrested in connection with the suspected smuggling. They were later charged with being illegal immigrants in possession of firearms.

Police were able to track down the two men after they were spotted leaving a residence linked to the truck's vehicle registration.

The US Justice Department reports that all four men face life imprisonment - and possibly the death penalty.

Our thoughts continue to go out to anybody affected by this horrific tragedy.

Speaking to The Texas Tribune, officials have since revealed further chilling details about the case.

One law enforcement official told the publication that although the truck did have a refrigeration system, it didn't appear to be working.
Credit: Xinhua / Alamy
As a result, temperatures inside the truck continued to become unbearable, and the official says it appears as if people were attempting to jump out of the tractor-trailer - as some bodies were found along several blocks.

The official also revealed that many of those found inside the truck appeared to have "been sprinkled with steak seasoning" in an apparent attempt to "cover up the smell of people".

On Tuesday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also stated that 22 of the dead were Mexican nationals, while seven were from Guatemala and two from Honduras. The nationalities of the remaining people are yet to be confirmed.

Our thoughts continue to go out to all of those affected by this tragedy.

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