Truck driver faces federal charges in San Antonio human-trafficking incident

Truck driver faces federal charges in San Antonio human-trafficking incident
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The Department of Justice on Monday charged the truck driver involved in a human-trafficking incident in the parking lot of a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas, that killed at least 10 people and injured dozens more.

The agency filed a federal complaint against James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60, for one count of transporting illegal aliens after he was taken into custody on Sunday night when a Walmart employee called 911. The charge carries the possibility of the death penalty.

Bradley, who told authorities he was tasked with transporting the trailer from Iowa to Texas, denied knowing that nearly 40 people were inside the semitrailer.

Bradley said he discovered the individuals when he stopped at the Walmart for a bathroom break, during which time he said he heard banging from inside the trailer. Upon opening the door, Bradley claimed “he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people and knocked to the ground,” according to the affidavit. All the individuals found in the semitrailer were "undocumented aliens," according to the Justice Department.

Eight individuals were found dead after being left in a semitrailer without water or air conditioning in south Texas’s sweltering summer heat, and two more individuals died later from dehydration and heat stroke. Scores more were hospitalized after being left in the extreme heat without water or air-conditioning.

Authorities believe more than 100 people could have been crammed into the trailer at one time, after interviewing the survivors. Bradley said 30 to 40 more people, who were previously trapped inside the vehicle, escaped into the woods near the store.

"To maximize their criminal profits, these human smugglers crammed more than 100 people into a tractor trailer in the stifling Texas summer heat resulting in ten dead and 29 others hospitalized," Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said in a statement. "Human smugglers have repeatedly demonstrated that they have absolutely no regard for human life. Our ICE agents and officers, working closely with our law enforcement partners, will pursue these smugglers and bring them to justice."

Bradley, if convicted, could face “life imprisonment or death, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release,” according to the Justice Department.