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Four charged in connection to deaths of 53 migrants in San Antonio

san antonio migrants
AP/Eric Gay
An ambulance leaves the scene where police said dozens of people were found dead in a semitrailer in a remote area in southwestern San Antonio, Monday, June 27, 2022.

Four individuals have been charged in connection to the deaths of 53 migrants who were found inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Wednesday a fourth arrest in the case, that of 45-year-old Homero Zamorano Jr.

Zamorano is facing one count of alien smuggling resulting in death after authorities checked security footage from a border checkpoint and allegedly confirmed he was the driver of the tractor-trailer discovered containing the migrants.

In total, 64 migrants were found inside the vehicle in San Antonio, with 48 confirmed dead at the scene and 16 taken to local hospitals. Five of those who were transported to the hospitals later died there.

Zamorano acted like he was one of the migrants when police arrived at the scene in an attempt to avoid getting arrested, Francisco Garduño, chief of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, said at a press conference.

Twenty-eight-year-old Christian Martinez was also arrested and charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death, according to the DOJ.

The agency said an investigation found communications between Martinez and Zamorano regarding the alleged smuggling after authorities received a search warrant for Martinez’s phone. 

Both men could face life in prison or the death penalty for their actions, if convicted. 

The other men charged were two Mexican citizens, 23-year-old Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez and 48-year-old Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao. Authorities found the men while staking out the address on the registration for the tractor-trailer.

Police pulled the two men over, each in separate vehicles, after they left the address.

“Both individuals were determined to be in the U.S. illegally and were charged by criminal complaint with one count of possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the U.S,” the DOJ said. 

If D’Luna-Mendez and D’Luna-Bilbao are convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

Tags Christian Martinez Homero Zamorano Jr. immigration Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao migrants San Antonio San Antonio Texas
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