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The deadliest attempt to smuggle people in the United States: a truck with dozens of dead illegal immigrants was found in Texas

Dozens of migrants were found dead in a truck at an abandoned oil rig in San Antonio on June 27 in what appears to be the deadliest human smuggling case in modern U.S. history. NBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

The bodies of at least 46 people were initially found in a tractor-trailer in the sweltering Texas heat, officials said. Sixteen other people, including four children, were hospitalized, according to San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood.

On the morning of June 28, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the death toll had risen to 50. He said 22 of the dead were Mexican citizens, seven from Guatemala and two from Honduras. The nationalities of the remaining 19 people have not yet been confirmed.

López Obrador said the Mexican government would provide assistance to family members of the victims.

According to San Antonio Police Chief William P. McManus, three people were taken into custody after being found, although he added that authorities did not know if they were definitely connected to the incident. He did not reveal their identities.

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The grim find was made in the early evening of June 27 in an undeveloped area in southwest San Antonio, close to railroad tracks. A man working in the area heard a cry for help and spotted at least one body, officials said.

"We shouldn't open the truck and see piles of bodies in there," Hood said.

McManus said the survivors had no water or air conditioning. “The victims we saw were hot to the touch,” he said. “They were suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion.”

McManus said the National Security Agency took over the investigation into the fatal incident. According to him, the temperature inside the trailer, filled with people, was probably significantly higher than the temperature outside.

A committee of the National Association of Medical Examiners recommended that bodies with a temperature of 41C or above at the time of collapse be identified as heat dead.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the 46 who died had "families who were probably trying to find a better life."

“This is nothing short of a terrible human tragedy,” Nirenberg said.

Alejandro Majorcas said he was "heartbroken over the tragic loss of life today and I pray for those who are still fighting for their lives."

“Too many lives have been lost as people including families, women and children set out on this dangerous journey,” he tweeted.

Noting that HSI launched its investigation with the support of the San Antonio Police Department and the US Customs and Border Protection Agency.

Monday's tragedy comes as the number of migrants detained at the southern border recently hit an all-time high.

Since January, authorities have dealt with more than 1 million migrants along the southwestern border, according to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data. That number is more than six times the number of cases reported in the same time period in 2020 and more than double the number of cases in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, according to CBP data.

The CBP reported at least 557 deaths at the southwestern border in the 12 months to Sept. 30, more than double the 247 deaths reported a year earlier, according to the Associated Press. Most of them were related to thermal exposure.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, blamed President Joe Biden's immigration policies for the incident.

"These deaths are Biden related," he tweeted. “They are the result of his deadly open border policy.”

The White House declined to comment on Abbott's tweet, instead pointing reporters to Majorcas' tweet.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the country's consul general was on his way to the scene of the incident and would visit hospitals to help survivors.

He tweeted that at least two Guatemalan citizens were identified among those taken to the hospital. Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said on Twitter that the country is investigating whether Hondurans were among the dead.

The registration number of a truck found in San Antonio was traced back to a vehicle belonging to a man named Felipe Betancourt from the city of Alamo.

Betancourt said the car appears to have been "cloned". He said the drivers of the truck found in San Antonio appeared to have duplicated the registration numbers of his truck. Betancourt said he wanted his name cleared from the case.

Monday's tragedy is reminiscent of a 2017 incident in which 10 migrants died in an overcrowded truck with 39 people in San Antonio at the height of summer.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants, and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

Driver James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and transporting migrants, although his wife said he did not know there were people in the trailer. In April 2018, he was sentenced to life in federal prison without parole.

In 2003, in Victoria, Texas, 19 people died in the back of a truck owned by Tyrone Williams, who was paid $7500 to drive through a Border Patrol checkpoint.

Williams was also sentenced to life in prison. He was later given additional sentences to be carried out along with the life sentence he was already serving.

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