The American suspected of driving the sweltering truck that killed dozens of migrants has been charged with smuggling migrants, resulting in death. The charges have been filed in federal court and according to US justice, he could face life and possibly the death penalty.
The 45-year-old Texas resident was arrested Monday in the city of San Antonio, near where the truck was parked. According to the Reuters news agency, he tried to avoid his arrest by posing as a survivor of the tragedy.
The death toll has risen to 53. They are migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, who had recently been smuggled into the US from Mexico. It is the deadliest human smuggling incident in US history.
The truck with victims was found in an abandoned location. There was no water or air conditioning and the temperature in the truck had risen to about 40 degrees. When the first officers arrived, none of the migrants was still conscious, according to conversations between officers on the police radio. Of the approximately 60 migrants, about 12 appeared to be still breathing.
Two other suspects were arrested after the truck was discovered. The Mexicans were found at the address the truck was registered to. They have been charged with illegal residence in the US and carrying a firearm. Their pre-trial detention has been extended.
A fourth suspect has also been arrested. This 28-year-old man is suspected of complicity in migrant smuggling, resulting in death. Police found him after examining the main suspect’s phone, which revealed that they had communicated with each other about transportation.