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Two indicted in migrant death-trailer case that left 53 dead

AP – Two men were indicted on Wednesday in the case of a hot tractor-trailer rig found last month with 53 dead or dying migrants in San Antonio, Texas, officials said.

A federal grand jury in San Antonio indicted Homero Zamorano Jr, 46, and Christian Martinez, 28, both of Pasadena, Texas, on counts of transporting and conspiring to transport migrants illegally resulting in death; and transporting and conspiring to transport migrants illegally resulting in serious injury.

Both remain in federal custody without bond pending trial. Martinez’s attorney, David Shearer of San Antonio, declined to comment on the indictments. A message to Zamorano’s attorney was not immediately returned.

Conviction on the death counts could result in life sentences, but the Attorney General’s Office could authorise prosecutors to seek death penalties. The serious bodily injury counts carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

It was the deadliest tragedy to claim the lives of migrants smuggled across the border.

The truck had been packed with 67 people, and the dead included 27 from Mexico, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and two from El Salvador, said Chief of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute Francisco Garduño.

The incident happened on a remote San Antonio back road on June 27. Police officers detained Zamorano after spotting him hiding in some nearby brush, according to a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office.

A search of Zamorano’s cellphone revealed calls with Martinez concerning the smuggling run.

Police and other first responders work the scene where officials say a tractor-trailer containing suspected migrants was found in San Antonio. PHOTO: AP