Two more people were charged Tuesday in connection to the Texas migrant tragedy — including the accused driver of the tractor-trailer carrying the dozens of people who died in a botched smuggling run.
Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, the alleged driver, was charged with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death, the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas announced in a press release.
His initial court appearance is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Zamorano, of Pasadena, Texas, allegedly abandoned the 18-wheeler on the side of a remote road in San Antonio Monday and fled the scene when witnesses heard a cry for help and spotted the truck with bodies stacked inside the back as well as on the ground.
He attempted to pose as one of the victims and was found hiding in a bush by police officers who arrested him at the scene. He was reportedly high on meth at the time and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Surveillance footage of the tractor-trailer crossing through an immigration checkpoint shows a person matching Zamorano’s description behind the wheel, according to investigators.
The death toll from the horrific human-smuggling incident rose to 53 on Wednesday — as two more people died in area hospitals. At least 22 of the dead were Mexican nationals, seven were Guatemalan and two were Honduran. US authorities are working alongside foreign consulates to notify the families of the deceased.
Zamorano’s alleged co-conspirator, Christian Martinez, 28, was also charged Tuesday.
Martinez was in communications with Zamorano about the human smuggling, according to federal prosecutors. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death.
If convicted, Zamorano and Martinez each could face the death penalty or a maximum of life in prison.
Zamorano’s estranged wife told the Post Wednesday that he was a good man and she was shocked to learn of his involvement.
Two other suspects, Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, 23, and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, 48, both Mexican citizens, had already been charged with possessing firearms while residing in the US illegally.
The mass casualty is one of the worst instances of migrant deaths in recent history.
The tractor-trailer carrying the migrants had no signs of water and no working AC or refrigeration as temperatures climbed to 103 degrees in San Antonio Monday. The victims were hot to the touch and suffered from heatstroke and dehydration, according to first responders.
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