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2 Men Indicted After Deadly Migrant Smuggling Operation Left 53 Dead In Texas

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Two men were indicted Wednesday after 53 migrants were found dead or dying after a tractor trailer was abandoned on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas, last month.

The Department of Justice said Homero Zamorano, 46, of Pasadena, Texas, and Christian Martinez, 28, of Palestine, Texas, had been charged on counts including transporting and conspiring to move migrants illegally leading to death and transporting and conspiring to move migrants illegally leading to serious injury.

A conviction on the transportation counts linked to the deaths could lead to life imprisonment, although prosecutors could seek the death penalty. The costs related to serious injury carry penalties as much as 20 years in prison.

DOJ officials said Zamorano was found hiding in the comb near the vehicle. A search warrant on his mobile phone found communications between the person and Martinez, who was later linked to the smuggling event.

Two other men, each Mexican nationals, were also indicted on charges of possessing a firearm while being within the U.S. illegally.

Neighbors and relatives lower the coffin that contain the stays of Pascual Melvin Guachiac Sipac right into a freshly dug grave, in Tzucubal, Nahuala, Guatemala, on July 16, 2022. The 13-year-old was amongst a gaggle of migrants who died of warmth and dehydration in a trailer-truck abandoned by smugglers on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas, on June 27.

The truck at the middle of the tragedy had been full of 67 people and a survivor told The Associated Press smugglers had covered the ground with powdered chicken bouillon to throw off any security dogs at border checkpoints.

Fifty-three people, including three children, died within the incident, the deadliest smuggling operation gone unsuitable along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Authorities discovered the grizzly scene on June 27 — when temperatures topped 100 degrees during a heat wave — after a concerned citizen reported a dead body near the abandoned truck. Officials said later they found “stacks and stacks of bodies” contained in the hot tractor trailer, which had no working air conditioner or water inside.

Greater than a dozen other migrants were taken to area hospitals affected by heat stroke and warmth exhaustion, and the survivors were “hot to the touch.”

Texas has seen record levels of migrant crossings from Mexico this yr, and authorities say the crossings are on pace to hit greater than 2 million this yr.

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