Two men linked in tractor-trailer case to face death charges
Two men were indicted Wednesday in the case of a tractor-trailer in which 53 migrants were found dead or dying in San Antonio, authorities said.
A federal investigative jury in San Antonio indicted Homero Zamorano Jr., 46, and Christian Martinez, 28, both of Pasadena, Texas, on charges of transporting and conspiracy to unlawfully transport migrants resulting in death and transporting and conspiracy to unlawfully transport migrants resulting in serious injury.
The two defendants remain in federal custody without bail pending trial. Martinez's attorney, David Shearer, declined to comment on the charges. Zamorano's attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
If convicted on the charges related to the migrants' deaths, they could be sentenced to life in prison, but prosecutors could be authorized by the U.S. Attorney's Office to seek the death penalty. Serious injury charges carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison.
This is the worst tragedy in terms of the number of migrant smuggling deaths across the Mexican border. The truck was carrying 73 people, and among the dead were 27 Mexicans, 14 Hondurans, seven Guatemalans and two Salvadorans, said Francisco Garduño, director of the National Migration Institute.
Among those killed in the truck were migrants from Guanajuato, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Mexico State, Zacatecas, Querétaro and Mexico City.
The incident occurred on a remote rural road in San Antonio on June 27. Police officers who arrived at the scene detained Zamorano after discovering him hiding in nearby bushes, according to a statement from the federal prosecutor's office.
An inspection of Zamorano's cell phone revealed calls with Martinez about the human smuggling operation