Dozens of migrants found dead in semitrailer in Texas

San Antonio: At least 40 migrants have been found dead in the back of a semitrailer in San Antonio, Texas, according to two US federal law enforcement officials briefed on the horrific finding.

Rescuers pulled at least 15 others from the vehicle and took them for medical treatment, said one of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide preliminary information.

Police block the scene where a semitrailer with multiple dead bodies was discovered In San Atonio, Texas.Credit:AP

The truck was found by agents from Homeland Security Investigations, a branch of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that specialises in human trafficking cases, one of the officials said. HSI agents are leading the investigation.

“There are about 46 migrants dead in San Antonio. Lord have mercy on them,” wrote San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller on Twitter. “They hoped for a better life. Lord after Uvalde and now this, help us!”

Near the scene, the lights of dozens of emergency vehicles flickered into the evening as investigators continued to search along a road running parallel to railroad tracks. Bystanders raised their mobile phones towards the scene about 200 metres down the pockmarked road where a parked semitrailer leaned into the brush.

The scene where bodies were discovered in the back of a truck in Texas, US, past the border with Mexico.Credit:AP

The location is close to Interstate 35, a major transit route for traffic and commerce from the US-Mexico border. Police said the trailer was discovered around 6pm on Monday (Texas time).

Smuggling organisations working inside the United States sometimes pack migrants into trucks and cargo trailers after they have already crossed the Mexico border, to sneak them past highway checkpoints operated by the US Border Patrol.

The deaths come amid a surge in migration to the US southern border, with the latest US Customs and Border Protection figures showing that immigration arrests there in May rose to the highest levels ever recorded. CBP made 239,416 arrests along the border last month, a 2 per cent increase from April, according to the totals.

The agency is on pace to surpass 2 million detentions in the 2022 fiscal year, which ends in September, after reaching a record 1.73 million in 2021 – presenting an ongoing logistical and political challenge for the Biden administration.

The latest figures show growing numbers arriving from countries including Turkey, India, Russia and other nations outside the Western Hemisphere. High numbers of migrants from Mexico, Central America, Cuba and Haiti also continued to cross. CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus recently warned about the dangers of illegal crossings.

“As temperatures start to rise in the [northern] summer, human smugglers will continue to exploit vulnerable populations and recklessly endanger the lives of migrants for financial gain,” Magnus said. “The terrain along the south-west border is extreme, the summer heat is severe and the miles of desert that migrants must hike after crossing the border are unforgiving”.

The tragedy immediately became one of the worst smuggling incidents on US soil. Until now, the deadliest incident was on May 13, 2003, when 19 migrants died in the rear compartment of an 18-wheeler in South Texas.

Then truck driver Tyrone Williams had agreed to smuggle the migrants across a border checkpoint for $US7500 ($10,800) but failed to turn on the truck’s cooling system and temperatures inside soared to a brutal 78 degrees Celsius.

Migrants clawed at the insulation and screamed for help, and when he finally opened the doors in Victoria, Texas, the 19 were found dead of dehydration, overheating and suffocation. Williams later was sentenced to 34 years in prison.

On July 23, 2017, 10 migrants died after being smuggled in a semitrailer to the carpark of a Walmart in San Antonio. The driver, James Matthew Bradley jnr, pleaded guilty to charges related to their deaths. Eight migrants died in the trailer and two later died at the hospital. Thirty-nine migrants were found at the scene, but officials said as many as 200 may have been on the trip. Bradley was sentenced to life in federal prison without parole.

His co-defendant, Pedro Silva Segura, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death, and was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison and five years of supervised release.

The Washington Post

More to come

Most Viewed in World

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article