At least 46 bodies found in trailer, San Antonio officials say
At least 51 people were discovered dead, “stacked” inside a truck’s tractor-trailer near San Antonio, Texas, in what authorities believe may be the the deadliest human-trafficking incident in modern US history.
Another 16 people, including four children, were taken to local hospitals in varying conditions, according to officials. Police have taken three people into custody. The US Department of Homeland Security is investigating.
A city worker heard a cry for help from the abandoned truck before discovering the gruesome scene on Monday, according to San Antonio police chief William McManus.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden called the “tragic loss of life” in Texas “horrifying and heartbreaking” while San Antonio’s mayor Ron Nirenberg called it a “horrific human tragedy”.
Mexico foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed that the nationalities of some of the victims who died inside the triple-digit-degree truck had been identified. The victims include 22 Mexicans, seven Guatemalans and two Hondurans.
Biden to meet Mexico’s president next month
President Joe Biden will meet Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on July 12 at the White House.
The White House said on Tuesday that the two leaders will discuss issues such as food security, immigration, climate and security and shared economic interests.
The announcement comes just a day after 51 migrants being smuggled into the US died after being abandoned in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas.
Mr Obrador had recently skipped the Summit of the Americas in protest against the US not inviting Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to the event.
Sravasti Dasgupta29 June 2022 06:00
Mexico foreign minister dials Guatemalan counterpart
Mexico foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard has said that he spoke with his Guatemalan counterpart to aid victims of San Antonio.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Mr Ebrard said: “In communication with Mario Búcaro, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala.”
“We will act together in support of victims and families affected by the tragedy in San Antonio, Texas. We share deep sorrow for what happened. Ongoing investigations to find those responsible.”
Mexican authorities are also coordinating with US officials to identify victims of the tragedy.
Sravasti Dasgupta29 June 2022 05:30
Officials condemn Texas governor for attacks on Biden for migrant deaths
Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores condemned Texas Governor Greg Abbott after the Republican blamed the deaths of 51 migrants on President Biden’s “deadly open border policies.”
“While bodies were still being removed, and others being taken to local hospitals, he chose to be heartless and point the finger. Shame on our governor,” she said.
The governor’s remarks are “also a complete contradiction to state that this tragedy was due to open border policies,” she said. “
“If there was such a policy as open borders, we wouldn’t have had over 50 human lives trying to enter this country the way they did,” she said. “We wouldn’t be mourning the deaths of so many people who were simply seeking a better life.”
As noted by The New York Timesthe governor did not blame other migrant deaths – including the deaths of 10 men inside a tractor-trailer in 2017, nor the deaths of six people after an SUV crashed in south Texas following a police chase in 2019 – on the Trump administration.
“Exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit is shameful, as is political grandstanding around tragedy,” Mr. Biden said said in a statement on Tuesday. “My administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday that “the fact of the matter is the border is closed, which is in part why you see people trying to make this dangerous journey using smuggling networks.”
Alex WoodwardJune 29, 2022 05:00
Death toll includes five children
The death toll for what authorities believe is the deadliest human-trafficking incident in modern US history includes 39 men, 12 women and five children, according to News4SanAntonio.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard reported that the death toll includes 22 Mexicans, seven Guatemalans and two Hondurans.
One man from Guatemala confirmed the death of his two daughters, Griselda and Carla, whose ages were not disclosed.
Alex Woodward29 June 2022 04:00
Three arrested in connection with horrific migrant deaths
Law enforcement agencies have arrested three people in connection with the deaths of more than 50 migrants in a trailer in San Antonio, Texas discovered on Monday.
Homero Zamorano, 45, was arrested after officials say he abandoned the truck, according to the San Antonio Express. One law enforcement officer said he was “very high on meth when he was arrested nearby and had to be taken to the hospital.”
The truck was traced to a home in South Bexar County, which police then put under surveillance.
Two men – Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez – were stopped; one confessed to have a weapon in their vehicle, and a search warrant was issued to look inside the home.
A federal charging document alleges both men were illegally possessing firearms while living in the country illegally.
Alex WoodwardJune 29, 2022 03:02
Human rights group and advocates urge administration to lift Title 42 following migrant deaths
The horrific deaths of migrants in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas has underscored the urgency to lift Title 42 provisions that block asylum seekers from entering the US, according to advocates.
The Trump-era order, reviving a 1944 measure, allows the federal government to block migrants from entering the country on the grounds of a public health emergency, even with a valid humanitarian claim for entry.
Advocacy group Human Rights First urged the government to end the provision and “protect human rights at our southern border.”
US Rep Joaquin Castro said Title 42 “has put desperate, oppressed people in grave danger of death.”
“We need to end Title 42 and fix our broken immigration system so these unimaginable tragedies stop happening,” said US Rep Chuy Garcia. “People fleeing violence and poverty deserve a chance at a better life.”
Alex WoodwardJune 29, 2022 02:00
Biden: ‘Horrifying’ incident underscores need for better enforcement against ‘multi-trillion dollar criminal smuggling industry’
In a statement mourning the deaths of at least 51 people killed in an apparent human-trafficking incident, President Joe Biden stressed the need “to go after the multi-billion dollar criminal smuggling industry preying on migrants and leading to far too many innocent deaths, ” he said.
“Exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit is shameful, as is political grandstanding around tragedy, and my administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry,” he said.
Alex WoodwardJune 29, 2022 00:56
Prosecutors charge two men with illegal weapons possession
Two men allegiously living in the US illegally have been charged for illegally possessing weapons connection with the deaths of 51 people believed to be migrants in a tractor-trailer in San Antonion.
Federal prosecutors have charged Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao with “possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the US.”
Prosecutors said the truck was registered to an address in the city.
There appears to be no other connection between the two men and the migrant deaths.
Alex WoodwardJune 28, 2022 11:14 p.m.
Honduran officials say they’re coordinating with US to identify dead migrants
Enrique Reina, Honduras’s foreign minister, said on Twitter that officials from the consulate are communicating with the Bexar County Forensic Office in San Antonio to assist in identifying the dead migrants.
Earlier in the day, officials had confirmed that 22 of the deceased were Mexican, seven were Guatemalan and two were Honduran, without releasing any other identifying information. The other 19 victim nationalities have not been announced.
“The process of scientific identification of the remains will be coordinated with the consulate and will be supported by fingerprint data,” Mr Reina tweeted on Tuesday, adding that the repatriation of the remains will be coordinated with relatives once the identities of the deceased had been confirmed.
Johanna ChisholmJune 28, 2022 9:28 p.m.
A global look at some of the deadliest migrant trafficking incidents in recent history
The San Antonio mayor called Monday night’s incident a “horrific human tragedy”, while the US president said that the “tragic loss of life” uncovered in the Texas city was “horrifying and heartbreaking”.
The US Department of Homeland Security, who is leading the probe into the incident that left at least 50 people dead, is being investigated as “An alleged human smuggling event”, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson said Monday.
Some officials have begun labeling the fatal smuggling incident as appearing to be among the most deadly in recent years for migrants near the southern border.
These deaths were just the latest in what has become a series of mass deaths occurring during human trafficking attempts from around the globe. Here, the Associated Press provides a global look at some of those incidents:
October 23, 2019: 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a truck trailer in Essex, England. Four men were jailed for manslaughter.
July 23, 2017: Eight immigrants were found dead in a sweltering trailer at a San Antonio Walmart parking lot. Two others died later in hospitals. The driver was sentenced to life in prison.
Feb. 20, 2017: 13 African migrants suffocated inside a shipping container while being transported between two towns in Libya. A total of 69 migrants, most from Mali, were packed into the container, according to the local Red Crescent branch.
Aug. 27, 2015: Austrian police discovered an abandoned truck containing the bodies of 71 migrants, including eight children, from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The truck, found along a highway, had crossed into Austria from Hungary.
April 4, 2009: 35 Afghan migrants suffocated inside a shipping container in southwestern Pakistan. Authorities said that more than 100 people were packed inside the container.
April 9, 2008: 54 Burmese migrants suffocated in the back of an airtight refrigerated truck in Ranong, Thailand.
May 14, 2003: 19 migrants died inside a sweltering tractor-trailer while they traveled from South Texas to Houston.
June 18, 2000: 58 Chinese immigrants were found dead inside a truck in the English port town of Dover. The Dutch truck had transported the immigrants across the English Channel from Belgium. Two people survived.
Johanna ChisholmJune 28, 2022 9:03 p.m.