Four charged in connection to botched smuggling operation that killed dozens

Jennie Taer, DCNF

Four individuals are charged in connection with a deadly human smuggling event in San Antonio, Texas, where dozens of migrants were found dead in a tractor trailer, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas announced Wednesday.

Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, of Brownsville, Texas, was arrested Wednesday and charged with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Christian Martinez, 28, was arrested Tuesday in Palestine, Texas, and charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death.

Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, 23, and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, 48, both Mexican nationals, were charged with possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the U.S. in connection with the alleged smuggling event, according to court documents.

64 people in the trailer were allegedly in the U.S. illegally, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. When authorities arrived on the scene, they encountered individuals on the ground and in the brush near the 18-wheeler.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 53 individuals are dead and 11 are hospitalized, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said Wednesday.

After conducting a search warrant on Zamorano’s phone, authorities found that Zamorano and Martinez talked about the smuggling event. Authorities observed Zamorano hiding in the brush and trying to run from the scene Monday.

Martinez and Zamorano face up to life in prison and could face the death penalty if convicted.

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