As it happenedended1656668644

San Antonio trailer deaths: Driver Homero Zamorano in court as photos show migrant truck at border

The 45-year-old truck driver is charged with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death

At least 46 bodies found in trailer, San Antonio officials say

Four people, including alleged truck driver Homero Zamorano Jr, have been charged in connection to the San Antonio migrant deaths, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday.

The 45-year-old is charged with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death. He is from Brownsville but based in Pasadena, Texas, according to officials. He could face up to life in prison or the death penalty.

Three others were charged as well, including Christian Martinez, who allegedly discussed the smuggling plan in a call with Mr Zamorano, and Mexican nationals Juan Claudio and Juan Francisco D’Luna Mendez, who were found because their address was used to register the tractor-trailer that smuggled the migrants.

At least 53 people were discovered dead, “stacked” inside the truck’s tractor-trailer near San Antonio, Texas, in what authorities believe may be the deadliest human-trafficking incident in modern US history.

The alleged driver, Mr Zamorano, was high on meth when he was arrested and had a past history of drug use and arrests, according to family members.

1656579636

San Antonio sheriff rips into Abbott for turning migrant trailer tragedy into ‘one big campaign stunt’

The sheriff of Bexar County, which contains San Antonio, has expressed his disappointment and anger at Texas governor Greg Abbott for turning the tractor-trailer tragedy into “one big campaign stunt”.

On Tuesday, sheriff Javier Salazar wrote to US president Joe Biden and complained that Mr Abbott had used the trailer tragedy – in which at least 53 migrants lost their lives — to gain political points.

The Texas governor had blamed the San Antonio tragedy on Mr Biden and his immigration policies.

My colleague Maroosha Muzaffar has more:

1656583236

Mexican migrant in Texas tragedy hoped to reach kin in Ohio

The two cousins returned to the tiny, hardscrabble hamlet they grew up in in southern Mexico about two weeks ago to say goodbye in what has become a right of passage for generations of migrants from their remote, impoverished mountainous region in Oaxaca state.

It would not be the first trip to the US-Mexico border for Javier Flores López, now in his mid-30s, who had left Cerro Verde years ago and went to Ohio, where his father and a brother live and he worked in construction.

He was back home to see his wife and three small children briefly, said a cousin, Francisco López Hernández. This time he was returning to the United States with another cousin, José Luis Vásquez Guzmán, 32, who was going for the first time and hoped to join his oldest brother who was in Ohio as well.

While everyone knew the risks, countless people from Cerro Verde had made it safely across the US-Mexico border with the help of smugglers, so it came as a shock, López Hernández said, to learn his cousins and dozens of other migrants were abandoned inside a tractor-trailer sweltering under the Texas sun.

Read more:

1656587144

First responders begin rehab process after responding to ‘horrific scene’ on Monday

San Antonio Fire Department’s Engine 52 was one of the first crews to arrive at the scene of an 18-wheeler on Monday where more than 60 people, most of whom would later be confirmed dead, lay trapped inside a sweltering tractor-trailer without access to water or air conditioning.

“Looks like quite a few of them are already deceased,” one of the crew member said into a scanner, which was reviewed by New York Times reporters. “We’re going to start sorting through the ones that are currently breathing.”

For hours on Monday evening, dedicated first responders began sifting through bodies, which were later described as being too hot to touch initially, to try and find the survivors. That scene is one that the crews, some of whom were still processing the scenes from the mass shooting in Uvalde that saw 19 children and two teachers die, will not be easily forgotten.

“It was a horrific scene, something I’ll never forget, and it will stick with us forever,” Dr Bryan Everitt, associate medical director of SAFD, told KSAT News.

The rehab process for the first responders reportedly began as early as Monday night, public information officer Joe Arrington told KSAT. Days later, that support has only grown larger as they continue to support the dozens who came to offer their services this week in what has been described as one of the deadliest smuggling incidents to occur on US soil in history.

“We have a peer support team. It’s a bunch of firefighters that are trained and paramedics that are trained to do debriefings, to do counselling,” Mr Arrington said in an interview with the news outlet.

The peer support team, he confirmed, is made up of over 50 members with specialised training.

1656589201

Photo shows smiling Homero Zamorano crossing border driving trailer packed with migrants

A photo released by immigration officials this week shows a smiling Homero Zamorano crossing the US-Mexico border, days before the 45-year-old would be charged by federal prosecutors with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death.

Zamorano, who was allegedly “very high on meth” when authorities arrested him this week and was posing as one of the survivors after the tragedy that left at least 53 people dead, according to police reports.

The alleged driver of a truck carrying dozens of migrants, identified by Mexican immigration officials as ‘Homero N’, drives through a security checkpoint in this surveillance photograph in Laredo, Texas, in this handout photo distributed to Reuters on June 29, 2022

Zamorano, the suspected driver of the truck found on the side of the road in San Antonio on Monday, is originally from the Texas border city of Brownsville, according to the US Attorney’s Office in San Antonio.

In an interview with the New York Post, Zamorano’s estranged wife pushed back against the negative portrayal her spouse was receiving in the news and described him as being “a good man.”

“I’m in shock, I mean, I just don’t even know what to say about it,” Jennifer Duncan told the New York outlet. “I know he wouldn’t do anything if he knew it was gonna harm anybody.”

“He goes out of his way to help anybody and everybody,” she said.

The 45-year-old’s first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday. If convicted on the charge, he could face up to life in prison or the death penalty.

1656592432

ICYMI: Abbott announces new measure along the southern border

On Wednesday, just days after at least 53 people were died in what’s being described as one of the deadliest smuggling incidents in the US, Texas Gov Greg Abbott announced new sweeping measures along his state’s southern bordern which he says will “mitigate President Biden’s growing border crisis”.

The announcement made at Eagle Pass, Texas, one of the busiest crossings for people making their way up through Mexico into the US, included the addition of DPS strike teams, each consisting of 20 troopers, to the crossing to “detect and deter unlawful border crossings and apprehend illegal immigrants”.

“President Biden needs to focus on addressing the humanitarian crisis his reckless leadership has created at the border, instead of attacking the jobs of hardworking Texans and oil production in the Permian Basin,” said Gov Abbott.

In addition to the strike teams, the Republican governor also announced that DPS will be implementing new vehicle inspection checkpoints targeting semi-trucks beginning immediately.

“The Lone Star State will not sit idly by as the federal government chooses to ignore the historic number of illegal crossings, human smuggling, and drug trafficking of deadly fentanyl from Mexico into the United States,” said Mr Abbott. “Our government has no greater responsibility than to provide public safety to its citizens. Until President Biden decides to uphold immigration laws passed by Congress, the State of Texas will continue utilizing every tool available to secure the border and keep Texans – and Americans – safe.”

1656594592

Does arrested driver Homero Zamorano have a criminal history?

Homero Zamorano, 45, has been charged with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death and is expected to appear for his first hearing in federal court on Thursday.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Mexican officials provided new insight into the path that Zamorano took up from Mexico.

The 45-year-old reportedly entered the US in Laredo, with Custom Border Patrol snapping a picture of the smiling driver as he passed through with dozens of migrants stowed in the truck’s trailer undetected.

The truck reportedly passed through checkpoints in Encinal and Cotulla, according to KSAT News.

Arrest records for Zamorano, who lives in Texas, showed that he’d had run-ins with the law going back to 1995, with convictions ranging from felony charges of burglary of a habitation to a misdemeanour for marijuana charges, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal History.

1656597458

‘Looking for better opportunities’: Uncle of hospitalised survivor describes his nephew’s journey north

Before he began the journey that ended in disaster, Jose Luis Vasquez lived in a remote mountainous community in southern Mexico, where a single telephone connects a few indigenous families to the outside world, local residents said.

Now the 31-year-old is in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, after becoming severely dehydrated in a sweltering tractor-trailer truck in which at least 53 migrants died in the worst human smuggling tragedy in recent US history.

One of them was as young as 13.

Vasquez had recently left the Mexican Army, according to his uncle Aquilino Guzman, who said he had seen his nephew several weeks before he left for the United States. But Vasquez had not shared those travel plans, Mr Guzman said.

“I guess it was the same story as always,” Mr Guzman told Reuters. “Looking for better opportunities.”

1656599632

Photos: Migrants in Texas trailer tragedy died seeking better lives

On Monday, at least 53 died after being trapped inside a tractor-trailer near Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio in late June 2022. Officials are now calling it the deadliest smuggling incident in US history, as the tragic deaths and untold suffering underscores the desperation of the people who go north searching for a better life risking their own lives, even if it means tapping in to dangerous human trafficking routes.

In pictures, here are some of the 53 people whose lives came to an abrupt halt this week after they were left in the sweltering heat on the outskirts of San Antonio. The dead included 27 people from Mexico, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and two from El Salvador, said Francisco Garduño, chief of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute.

Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero,Margie Tamara Paz Grajeda and Fernando Redondo Caballero

Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero and his girlfriend Margie Tamara Paz Grajeda, along with Caballero´s brother, Fernando Redondo Caballero, died near San Antonio, Texas after 51 bodies were found in hot trailer full of dead migrants being smuggled into the US.

In this undated photo provided by Karen Caballero, her son Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero and his girlfriend Margie Tamara Paz Grajera pose for a photo at an undisclosed location in Honduras.

In this undated photo provided by Karen Caballero, her son Fernando Redondo Caballero poses for a photo at an undisclosed location in Honduras

Wilmer Tulul and Pascual Melvin Guachiac

Wilmer Tulul and Pascual Melvin Guachiac were 13-year-old cousins from Tzucubal, Guatemala who grew up doing everything together. Wilmer last messaged his mother, Magdalena Tepaz, on Monday with the note: “Mom, we’re heading out.” Relatives in Houston who were supposed to pick the two boys up this week later relayed the terrible news, which was also confirmed by the Guatemalan government, to the children’s families: they were in the trailer on Monday and had not survived.

Maria Sipac Coj holds a portrait of her son Pascual Melvin Guachiac in Tzucubal, Guatemala, Wednesday, June 29, 2022

A man shows a portrait of Wilmer Tulul, in Tzucubal, Guatemala, Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Files from the Associated Press

1656600200

Supreme Court clears Biden to end Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Biden administration properly ended a Trump-era policy forcing some US asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico. The justices’ 5-4 decision for the administration came in a case about the “Remain in Mexico” policy under President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden suspended the program on his first day in office in January 2021. But lower courts ordered it reinstated in response to a lawsuit from Republican-led Texas and Missouri. The current administration has sent far fewer people back to Mexico than did the Trump administration.

1656602272

‘This was a crime against humanity’: San Antonio Police Chief describes ‘beyond tragic’ scene

First reponders arriving to the tractor-trailer on the side of the road in a remote part of San Antonio say no one could’ve been prepared for what they saw when they opened the door to the stifling truck.

“This was a crime against humanity,” said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus in an interview with CNN. The teams that first picked up the call on their scanners thought they’d be engaging in a rescue operation, the police chief told the news outlet. Instead, it was something much bleaker.

“This was nothing but pure evil, that someone could allow this to happen, to anyone, let alone that many people,” the chief said. “The floor of the trailer, it was completely covered in bodies. Completely covered in bodies ... There were at least 10-plus bodies outside the trailer, because when we arrived, when EMS arrived, we were trying to find people who were still alive. So we had to move bodies out of the trailer onto the ground.”

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, center, briefs media and others at the scene where dozens of people were found dead and multiple others were taken to hospitals with heat-related illnesses after a semitrailer containing suspected migrants was found, Monday, June 27, 2022, in San Antonio

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in