More than halfOne person was found dead or dying in a trailer truck in Texas last week, with the youngest being 13, officials said Tuesday.
The medical examiner’s office is still awaiting confirmation of the identities of the 18 victims more than a week after the country’s deadliest smuggling attempt, according to officials in Bexar County, where the trailer was found.On a back road on the edge of San Antonio.
Waiting for confirmation was painful for familiesto me . They’re now hoping for what could have been frightening before–his capture by the Border Patrol, even hospitalization–anything but the solemn ending that was passed from family to family across the region.
The victims identified so far are between 13 and 55 years old. A survivor of the flight, atold The Associated Press that smugglers covered the trailer floor with what they believe to be chicken broth powder, apparently to get rid of any dogs at checkpoints.
The tedious identification process continues, but some families have already confirmed their losses. In Honduras, family membersLike 23-year-old Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero and his 24-year-old wife, Margie Tamara Paz Gragida. In Guatemala, relatives confirmed the deaths of two teenage cousins, Pascual Melvin Guachak and Juan Wilmer Tolol Tipaz.
The truck was carrying 73 people when it was found on June 27. Federal prosecutors say four people have been arrested in connection with the discovery of the truck, including the driver.
Two men were charged in the accidentthe Department of Justice said last week.
The alleged truck driver, Homero Zamorano of Texas, has been arrested on criminal charges related to his alleged involvement in a deadly smuggling campaign. If convicted, the 45-year-old Pasadena resident faces life in prison, or the possibility of the death penalty, according to the Department of Justice.
Christian Martinez, 28, was also charged after federal law enforcement officials executed a search warrant on a cell phone belonging to Zamorano. Investigators found contacts between him and Martinez in which they discussed the smuggling attempt, according to the Justice Department.
Craig Larrabee, the Homeland Security Special Agent responsible for investigating the incident, called the matter “interesting” and “terrifying” in an interview.
“This is the highest human smuggling incident in US history,” he told CBS News.
Larrabee said his agency has recorded an increase in cross-border smuggling networks that use tractors to transport large groups of migrants who have entered the country illegally.
“You have organizations that simply don’t care about the safety of the people you’re transporting,” he added. “It’s a commodity.”