‘It’s a crime against humanity’: San Antonio police chief tells of horror at finding bodies of 53 migrants piled up in Texas tractor trailer as devastated families remember victims who were desperate for the ‘American dream’
- The 53 migrants who died in in the smuggling incident were from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras
- Authorities have arrested four people, including Homero Zamorano Jr., who drove the tractor trailer before he abandoned it near San Antonio on Monday
- The victims were searching for better economic opportunities in the United States in order to help their loved ones back home
- Two Salvadorans, seven Guatemalans, 14 Hondurans and 27 Mexicans died. Authorities have yet to confirm the nationality of one victim
- Margie Paz, was a 24-year-old college graduate from Honduras who wanted to help cover her mother’s $8,000 cancer operation
- She died alongside her boyfriend Alejandro Andino and his brother Fernando Redondo
- Guatemalan natives, Wilmer Tulul and Pascual Guachiac, both 13 years old, are believed to be the youngest who died
- A migrant advocacy group in Mexico believes most of the 27 Mexican victims were residents of Izucar de Matamoros, a city in the central state of Puebla
They all had plans of starting anew in a country with so many unknowns, to search for a decent paying job that would allow them to provide for their families back home.
The massive group’s dream about life in the United States was cut short Monday when it was abandoned in the locked container that was hauled through the southern border region before local and federal authorities discovered 46 corpses inside the overheated shipping bin.
By Wednesday afternoon, the death toll in what investigators believe is the deadliest human trafficking episode, had increased to 53 while 11 remained hospitalized.
The failed smuggling incident claimed the lives of two Salvadorans, seven Guatemalans, 14 Hondurans and 27 Mexicans. The nationalities of one other victim havs yet to be reported by U.S. authorities.
San Antonio Police chief William McManus, who has been in law enforcement for four decades, told CNN it ‘was a crime against humanity.’
‘The floor of the trailer, it was completely covered in bodies. Completely covered in bodies,’ he added. ‘There were at least 10-plus bodies outside the trailer, because when we arrived, when EMS arrived, we were trying to find people who were still alive. So we had to move bodies out of the trailer onto the ground.’
The driver of the truck, Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, was attempted to disguised himself as a migrant. He was arrested Wednesday and was charged with alien smuggling resulting in death.
Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, drove the tractor trailer that crammed with Mexican, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran migrants before he abandoned it near San Antonio. At least 53 people had been confirmed dead as of Wednesday with 11 hospitalized
Surveillance cameras captured Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, driving the truck hours before he crossed an immigration checkpoint and allegedly abandoned it on a road on the outskirts of San Antonio. The Department of Justice said he is originally from Brownsville, Texas, but resides in Pasadena, Texas
The driver who abandoned the tractor trailer in the sweltering Texas heat, leaving at least 53 migrants dead, was ‘very high on meth’ when police arrested him
Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, 23, and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, 48, both citizens of Mexico, have also been arrested in connection to the incident after investigators discovered that the tractor trailer’s registration was linked to a residence in San Antonio.
The men were seen living the home in two separate trucks and were stopped by authorities. Police recovered a gun from the truck that Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao. Additional firearms where also located at the home during a search. Both men were found to be residing illegally in the United States and were charged with one count of possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the U.S.
A migrant advocacy group in Mexico indicated that many of the 27 migrants who perished were residents of the Izucar de Matamoros, a city located in the southwestern part of the central state of Puebla.
Puebla’s government publicly acknowledged the possibility, but says it has no evidence to corroborate the Izucar link, with most of the victims yet to be formally identified.
Some residents in Izucar de Matamoros would not rule out that some of the locals were among the victims, because despite the risks, the road north continues to lure young men especially, fed on tales of those who make it in the United States.
Carlos Carraso, who lives in the town with a population of about 41,000, once migrated to New Jersey, where he found employment in a pizzeria.
‘It’s tough here in Mexico. There’s violence, unemployment, health issues,’ he said. Everyone who goes to the U.S. goes in search of the American Dream.’
Margie Paz, Alejandro Andino and Fernando Redondo
Margie Paz, of Honduras, was named among the deceased on Wednesday. The 24-year-old had been studying at the National Autonomous University of Honduras. She was dating Alejandro Caballero
The Honduran government on Wednesday named brothers Fernando Redondo (left) and Alejandro Andino (right) among the deceased. Their mother told Honduran television station HCH that her sons and Andino’s girlfriend left for the United States on June 4
The abandoned group’s ambition of reaching the American Dream brought sorrow to Gloria Paz, whose only child, Margie Paz, 24, was found dead with her boyfriend Alejandro Andino, 23, and his brother, Fernando Redondo, 18.
Although she had been employed at a call center in San Pedro Sula, Margie Paz’s salary was not enough to help cover the $8,000 operation her mother needed to treat her cancer.
‘My health is bad, that’s why she made that trip, whenever she visited me she asked me how I felt and told me that she had to work to be able to pay for the operation,’ Gloria Paz told Honduran television station HCH. ‘She practically went to give her life for me.’
With no well paying jobs in sight, Margie Paz joined Andino and Redondo and set for the U.S. on June 4 after when the siblings’ relative, who lives in the United States, decided to cover the cost of their trip.
Both Margie Paz and Andino were college graduates, yet were unsuccessful at landing jobs in their home country.
‘You think that when people have a higher level of education, they have to get more employment opportunities,’ said Karen Caballero, the brothers´ mother. ‘Because that’s why they work, study.’
Adela Ramírez is one of 14 Hondurans who died in the smuggling incident
Adela Aguilar told Honduran newspaper La Prensa that her granddaughter Adela Ramírez, 28, was living alone at her home in Cuyamel after her mother and sisters were successful in migrating to the United States.
Ramírez had hoped to rejoin them in Los Angeles.
Wilmer Tulul and Pascual Guachiac
Wilmer Tulul and Pascual Guachiac were both 13 years old and are believed to be the youngest victims of the migrant smuggling tragedy that left 53 people dead after they were abandoned near San Antonio in an overheated container hauled by a semi-truck
Guatemalan natives, Wilmer Tulul and Pascual Guachiac, both 13 years old, are believed to be the youngest who died.
On June 14, the teenagers left the town of Tzucubal, an Indigenous Quiche community of about 1,500 people in the mountains nearly 100 miles northwest of the capital, where most live by subsistence farming.
Tulul texted ‘mom, we’re heading out’ to Magdalena Tepzas in their native Quiche on Monday.
Manuel de Jesús Tulul said his son and Guachiac were heading to Houston, but had no idea they would be doing so crammed in a trailer.
The boys were charged $6,000 by the smuggler, although half was only paid.
Guachiac sent an audio message to his mother María Sipac Coj, indicating he was leaving in the tractor trailer Monday.
Sipac Coj, a single mother of two, said her son wanted to study in the United States, then work and after build my house.’
Carla Carac-Tambriz and Griselda Carac-Tambriz
Sisters Carla and Griselda Carac-Tambriz, of Guatemala, were among the 51 migrants left to die in an abandoned semi-truck trailer in the sweltering Texas heat on Monday. The sisters came to America to ‘achieve our dreams and also help our family’
Carla Carac-Tambriz and her sister Griselda Carac-Tambriz, left their families behind in the western Guatemalan department of Solalá, and died in the smuggling incident
‘Let’s achieve our dreams and also help our family,’ one of the sisters reportedly said before the pair embarked on their journey to the U.S.
Javier Flores and Jose Luis Vásquez Guzmán
In Mexico, cousins Javier Flores López and Jose Luis Vásquez Guzmán left the tiny community of Cerro Verde in the southern state of Oaxaca also hoping to help their families. They were headed to Ohio, where construction jobs and other work awaited.
Flores López is now missing, his family said, while Vásquez Guzmán is hospitalized in San Antonio.
Cerro Verde is a community of about 60 people that has largely been abandoned by the young. Those who remain work earning meager livings weaving sun hats, mats, brooms and other items from palm leaves. Many live on as little as 30 pesos a day (less than $2).
It was not the first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border for Flores López, now in his mid-30s, who left Cerro Verde years ago and went to Ohio, where his father and a brother live.
He was back home to see his wife and three small children briefly, said a cousin, Francisco López Hernández. Vásquez Guzmán, 32, decided to go with his cousin for his first trip across the border and hoped to reach his oldest brother who is in Ohio as well.
While everyone knew the risks, countless people from Cerro Verde had made it safely across the U.S.-Mexico border with the help of smugglers, so it came as a shock, López Hernández said. The family believes Flores López was, too, but they are still awaiting confirmation.
Vásquez Guzmán´s mother had intended on getting a visa to visit her hospitalized son, but on Wednesday he was moved out of intensive care and she was able to speak with him by phone. She decided to stay in Mexico and await his recovery, said Aida Ruiz, director of the Oaxaca Institute for Migrant Attention.
López Hernández said most people rely on those who have made it to the U.S. to send them money for the journey, which usually costs around $9,000.
‘There are a lot of risks but for those who are lucky, the fortune is there, to be able to work, earn a living’ he said.