Migrants dead in Texas: Driver didn't know AC was broken
Police sources claimed the driver was under the influence of methamphetamine.
The alleged driver of a truck in which at least 53 migrants died in sweltering conditions earlier this week in San Antonio, Texas, did not realize the vehicle's air conditioner had stopped working, according to court documents.
This information was revealed to a police informant by an alleged co-conspirator, Christian Martinez.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the 28-year-old man communicated by text message with the driver of the vehicle, Homero Zamorano Jr., in the hours before and after the gruesome discovery.
Where are you ? reads the transcript of a message from Martinez to Zamorano sent at 1:40 p.m. Monday, as authorities were removing dozens of bodies from the trailer.
Martinez then sent several more messages, including a final one around 6:15 p.m. That's when authorities discovered Zamarono near the truck, hiding in the brush. Mexican authorities say he was trying to pass himself off as a survivor.
The informant claims to have spoken to Martinez after the incident. The latter allegedly told him that the driver was unaware that the air conditioning unit had stopped working and caused the death of these people.
Law sources claimed that the driver was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time they met him.
Officers arrested him when surveillance photos showed him driving the truck passing a US border checkpoint in Laredo, Texas.
Photos of driver Homero Zamorano Jr. were taken at a border checkpoint.
Homero Zamorano Jr and Christian Martinez are both charged with human smuggling causing death, a crime punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.
The two men are part of a group of four people charged in connection with the investigation into the deadliest episode of human trafficking in US history.
Investigators were able to trace the registration of the vehicle to an address in San Antonio which they placed under surveillance.
Two Mexican nationals, Juan Claudio D'Luna Mendez, 23, and Juan Francisco D'Luna Bilbao, 48, were arrested at the scene and face to charges of unlawful possession of firearms.
Their involvement in the tragedy has not been clarified.
Authorities suspect the 64 migrants boarded on the US side of the border with Mexico. They would then have been left in the back of the trailer without air conditioning after a mechanical failure.
The tractor-trailer was found by a person working nearby in the southern town of San Antonio, Texas, about 250 kilometers from the Mexican border.
The mercury reached 39.4 degrees Celsius that day in San Antonio.
The victims included 27 Mexican citizens, as well as 14 Hondurans, seven Guatemalans and two Salvadorans.
At least 40 men and 13 women have died and another 11 migrants have been hospitalized with heat-related issues. Other minor migrants remain hospitalized.
The UN estimates that at least 650 migrants died last year trying to reach the United States.
Mexican authorities report that another truck carrying a group of migrants rammed a trailer after it escaped a U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint in the city of Encinal, Texas on Thursday.
The crash left four people dead and three injured.
With information from CNN, BBC, Reuters, NY POST, and The Guardian