Trucking news and briefs for Monday, July 25, 2022:
A federal grand jury in San Antonio returned an indictment last week against two men charged in the fatal human smuggling incident involving a tractor-trailer that occurred on June 27, resulting in the death of 50 adults and three minor children with 10 adults and one minor child injured.
Homero Zamorano Jr., 46, of Pasadena, Texas, and Christian Martinez, 28, of Palestine, Texas, are charged in a federal indictment with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death; one count of transportation of illegal aliens resulting in death; one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy; and one count of transportation of illegal aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy.
Upon conviction, the charges for conspiracy to transport and transport resulting in death carry a maximum penalty of life in prison or the death penalty. The Attorney General will decide whether to seek the death penalty at a later time. Should the Attorney General determine that the circumstances of the offense warrant that a sentence of death is justified, the law requires that notice be filed with the court at a reasonable time before trial.
The defendants face up to 20 years in prison for the transporting resulting in serious bodily injury charges. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
On June 27, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents responded to the scene of a human smuggling event involving a tractor-trailer and 64 individuals suspected of entering the United States illegally. San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) officers advised HSI agents that they arrived at the location of the tractor-trailer in southwest San Antonio after receiving 911 calls from concerned citizens.
At the scene, SAPD officers discovered multiple individuals -- some still inside the tractor trailer, some on the ground and in nearby brush, many of them deceased and some of them incapacitated. SAPD officers were led to the location of an individual, later identified as Zamorano, who was observed hiding in the brush after attempting to flee. Zamorano, who was the driver of the truck, was detained by SAPD officers.