Officials in San Antonio, Texas, say federal authorities were now investigating an human smuggling tragedy that was discovered on Monday
At least 50 people were found dead inside an abandoned tractor-trailer near San Antonio, Texas on Monday
Another 16 people, including four children, were rushed to hospitals to treat heatstroke and dehydration
They were found by a local worker, who investigated the scene after hearing a faint cry for help emanating from the truck
Mexico’s foreign ministry confirmed the deceased includes 22 migrants from Mexico, seven from Guatemala and two from Honduras, others are yet to be identified
It may be the deadliest incident connected to illegal smuggling of people across the southern U.S. border
Temperatures in San Antonio – 160 miles from the Mexican border – were as high as 103F on Monday
Fire department chief said the trailer was refrigerated, but that the air conditioning was not functioning
Three people were taken into custody, though police are yet to establish whether they are ‘absolutely connected to this or not’
The ‘death rig’ had tags and registration allegedly cloned from a Volvo operating in Alamo, Texas, according to he owner of the Volv
Dozens of migrants were found dead in an abandoned big rig in San Antonio on Monday in what appears to be the deadliest human smuggling case in modern U.S. history.
A day later the death toll reportedly has risen to 50 suspects migrants found inside an abandoned tractor-trailer in 103-degree heat. The horrifying discovery was made near the intersection of Cassin Drive and Quintana Road in Southwest San Antonio, about 160 miles from the US-Mexico border.
Firefighters found ‘stacks of bodies’ in a truck next to railroad tracks in San Antonio’s southern outskirts, close to Interstate 35 which runs to the Mexican border, on Monday. There were no signs of water in the truck.
Some of the victims staggered out of the trailer before dying and were found several blocks away, police told the Texas Tribune. The migrants had been sprinkled with steak seasoning in apparent bid to cover up their smell as they were being transported.
Sixteen survivors, including four children were rushed to nearby hospitals for heat stroke and exhaustion. They were found by a local worker, who investigated the scene after hearing a faint cry for help emanating from the truck.
Police say they are not confident they have accounted for everyone from the truck and do not know what the total number is.
Over 50 suspected migrants dead after being found inside hot tractor trailer in San Antonio
Mexico’s foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed Tuesday morning that the deceased includes 22 migrants from Mexico, seven from Guatemala and two from Honduras. The other migrants have yet to be identified. Officials note that no children were among the dead.
‘These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies,’ Abbott tweeted Monday night, hours after the bodies were discovered. ‘They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.’
The incident marks the deadliest human smuggling on American soil since 2003 when 19 migrants died after riding inside the rear compartment of sweltering 18-wheeler while they traveled from South Texas to Houston. The death doll rose to 50 from 46 on Tuesday morning. According to some sources, the death toll could be as high as 52.
First responders received the first call about the truck shortly before 6 p.m. from a worker in the area who had heard a cry for help and went to investigate, McManus said.
According to a law enforcement official, it appears people were trying to jump out of the tractor-trailer because some of the deceased were found along several blocks. The tractor-trailer had a refrigeration system, the official said, but it did not appear to be working. Forty-eight people died on the scene, and two died at hospital.
Curiously, many of the people found inside the rig appeared to have been sprinkled with steak seasoning, the official said, in perhaps an attempt to cover up the smell of people as the smugglers were transporting them.
Authorities said the truck’s doors were partly open when they arrived; a body was outside the vehicle and the rest could be seen inside. The city’s fire chief, Charles Hood, said the survivors did not appear to have access to water and were too weak to exit the truck on their own.
“We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there,” Hood said. “None of us come to work imagining that.”
They hapless victims were found by a local worker, who investigated the scene after hearing a faint cry for help emanating from the truck.
Sixteen survivors, including four children were rushed to nearby hospitals. They were hot to the touch and were suffering from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Authorities are “very hopeful” that they would survive.
Among those hospitalized were a 23-year-old woman in serious condition and an adolescent male in critical condition at University Hospital in San Antonio, authorities said. No children were among the dead.
The sight of piled body bags at the human smuggling incident was so disturbing as locals and a group priests from the San Antonio Archdiocese were seen in obvious shock at the tragedy. One group of individuals, led in by a local priests, were in apparent prayer at the scene.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said on Monday that three individuals were taken into custody, but that it had not been established whether they were ‘absolutely connected to this or not’. Chief McManus Monday night could not confirm whether all the victims had been found, adding that canine units would be deployed in the morning to continue searching.
The truck had U.S. and Texas registration numbers listed on the cab. State department on transportation records connected the tags to an Alamo resident. That registration number was traced to a vehicle belonging to a man named Felipe Betancourt.
However, Betancourt’s son-in-law, Issac Limon, claims those running the smuggling ring fraudulently printed the tags on the truck: ‘It was a perfect setup,’ Limon told The Washington Post. ‘The truck is here. I’m looking at it right now. Sad to say, but he’s a bit of a victim, too, because people believe it was him.’
Limon claims the truck that actually corresponds with the registration is a Volvo and was being used to haul grain over the past week in another part of Texas.
He noted that is father-in-law was ‘shaken up’ by the incident.
When contacted himself, Betancourt said the vehicle appeared to have been “cloned.” According to him, the operators of the truck found in San Antonio appeared to have duplicated his truck’s registration numbers.
He said he wanted his name cleared of the matter, Betancourt told NBC news.
The truck was found abandoned by auto salvage yards and railroad tracks around 6pm Monday. Homeland Security Investigators took over the search after responding to the incident on Quintana Road near Cassin Road following a call from the San Antonio Police Department
Police said a nearby worker ‘heard a cry for help and came out to investigate’, before finding the trailer’s doors partially opened upon arrival and discovering dozens of bodies.
Texas has been experiencing a near-record heat wave, while temperatures in San Antonio, which is about 160 miles from the Mexican border, swelled to a high of 103F on Monday with high humidity.
‘The patients that we saw were hot to the touch. They were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion,’ fire chief Charles Hood said in a Monday press briefing.
‘[There were] no signs of water in the vehicle. It was a refrigerated trailer, but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.’
McManus said Monday searches to find any survivors that may have escaped were ongoing.
‘We had our canines out there going through the woods and we may have to do that again tomorrow in the light of day,’ he said.
Sounding a note of sympathy, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the 50 people who died had ‘families who were likely trying to find a better life’.
‘The plight of migrants seeking refuge is always a humanitarian crisis,’ said Nirenberg.
‘But tonight we are dealing with a horrific human tragedy.’
Locals said that the location where the truck was found was a known drop-off point for migrants, According to The New York Times, locals said that the location where the truck was found was a known drop-off point for migrants,
‘You can tell they just got here. We see them with backpacks or asking for food or money,’ one local Ruby Chavez, a told the paper.
‘They know this area. They jump off the train and get picked up,’ Chavez’s husband said.
In the past ICE have regularly intercepted migrants in the area. The I-35 highway near where the truck was found runs through San Antonio from the Mexican border and is a popular smuggling corridor because of the large volume of truck traffic: ‘It was only a matter of time before a tragedy like this was going to happen again,’ a former ICE investigator said.
Big rigs emerged as a popular smuggling method in the early 1990s amid a surge in U.S. border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, which were then the busiest corridors for illegal crossings
Monday’s tragedy was one of the deadliest incidents of illegal smuggling of people across the southern U.S. border.
Ten migrants died in 2017 after being trapped inside a truck that was parked at a Walmart in San Antonio. In 2003, 19 migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of San Antonio..
Prior to that, people paid small fees to mom-and-pop operators to get them across a largely unguarded border.
As crossings became exponentially more difficult after the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S., migrants were led through more dangerous terrain and paid thousands of dollars more to smugglers. With the new wave mode of operation for the smugglers, heat poses a serious danger, and temperatures can rise severely inside vehicles, endangering the lives of the occupants.