A man from Florida is expected to face charges in connection to what police called a horrific human trafficking case — several men found dead inside a sweltering 18-wheeler parked outside a San Antonio Walmart early Sunday.

James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, from Clearwater, Florida, was taken into custody and is due in court Monday, U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin Jr. said. He did not say whether Bradley was the driver of the truck, although investigators said earlier that the driver was in custody.

Eight men were found dead in the truck and one man died later at the hospital, according to Liz Johnson, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE had announced 10 were dead before revising the number to nine.

A total of 39 people had been inside the tractor-trailer, including at least four teenagers, Fox 29 reported. Paramedics rushed as many as 20 people to hospitals in critical condition, with others facing “less critical” injuries.

“We’re looking at human trafficking crime here this evening,” Police Chief William McManus said, adding that it was “a horrific tragedy.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is also looking into the incident.

A store employee first alerted police after being approached by someone from the truck who was asking for water. The vehicle did not have a working air conditioning system when it was found, authorities said.

“They were very hot to the touch. So these people were in this trailer without any signs of any type of water,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said in a news conference. “It was a mass casualty situation for us.”

The National Weather Service said the temperature in San Antonio hit 101 degrees just before 5 p.m. Saturday and didn’t dip below 90 degrees until after 10 p.m.

According to police, surveillance video from the store showed “a number of vehicles” picking up people who survived the trip that were inside the trailer. Some people bolted into the woods, prompting police to search the area in the morning. 

The origin of the truck is still unknown. Investigators gathered evidence from the truck on Sunday, which had an Iowa license plate but no other markings. 

Thomas Homan, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director, said in a statement: “By any standard, the horrific crime uncovered last night ranks as a stark reminder of why human smuggling networks must be pursued, caught and punished.”

Click here for more from Fox 29.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source link

About the Author:

Leave a Reply