Texas migrant deaths: Suspected truck driver is charged

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The suspected driver of a truck found abandoned in Texas with dozens of bodies inside has been charged with migrant smuggling resulting in death.

Homero Zamorano was found posing as a migrant in a bush near the lorry in San Antonio and arrested by police.

Some 53 people died in the tragedy, many of heatstroke and dehydration, after being shut inside the truck in blistering heat without any water.

It is the deadliest human trafficking incident in US history.

According to a top Mexican immigration official, the suspected driver, Mr Zamorano – who is from Texas, had “tried to pass himself off as one of the survivors” when he was found by police.

A second suspect, Christian Martinez, was arrested on conspiracy charges. Federal prosecutors say investigators found him after searching through Mr Zamorano’s phone and discovering the pair had been communicating.

The US Justice Department announced that the two men could face a maximum sentence of life in prison, or possibly the death penalty if convicted.

Two further suspects linked to the address where the truck was registered have also been arrested for firearm offenses.

Emergency responders arrived at an isolated road near San Antonio on Monday evening to find 46 dead bodies inside and around the abandoned vehicle, which had its doors flung open.

None of the people inside the truck, which was only found after a nearby worker heard cries for help, were conscious when the responders arrived. According to official radio dispatches from the scene only about a dozen of those found inside the vehicle appeared to be breathing.

The death toll subsequently rose to 53, after a number of those hospitalized died.

A memorial has emerged at the site of the tragedy, around 250km (160 miles) north of the US-Mexico border, and on Wednesday local Texas residents gathered there to mourn.

Another local who himself arrived in the US as an undocumented worker, Roberto Alvarez, came with roses and candles to remember the victims.

“You put yourself a little bit in their place” he said, “because you also lived through it.”

Bottles of water were also left at the site – earlier police said there was no water or air-conditioning on the truck.

 

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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