A 28-year-old Texas man charged with staging Horrible smuggling operation kills 53 migrants This week frantically texted the driver as the truck went off radar and then admitted to a confidential informant that he had no idea the air conditioning had failed in a large, stuffy rig. bang said.
Christian Martinez, 28, was arrested Tuesday on death-linked human trafficking charges that could lead to life in prison or the death penalty after the migrants were said to have faced debilitating temperatures up to 150 degrees inside the truck.
Martinez’s chain of messages to the driver believed to be the pickup truck, 45 years old Homero Zamorano Jr.was detailed in a criminal complaint obtained by The Daily Beast on Friday.
The complaint says the first message came at 12:17 p.m. Monday when Martinez texted his alleged accomplice a photo of the pickup’s “manifest.”
Zamorano is said to have replied two minutes later, “I come to the same place.”
After 30 minutes, the lawsuit says, Martinez responded by texting Zamorano: 3108 Chacon Street in Laredo, Texas — an industrial area just three miles from the Mexican border. But there will be no additional answers from Zamorano.
This caused Martinez to seemingly go into a frenzy, pestering his partner with a series of unanswered messages.
The complaint says he texted an abbreviated version of “Where you at bro?” at 1:40 pm
Martinez allegedly texted three more times at 3:18 p.m., sending: “Call me man,” “Yes,” “Call me man.”
Unionists said Martinez sent one last text at 6:17 p.m., again texting back initials: “Wya?”
When Martinez texted, authorities said that Zamorano drove the large rig past the Laredo checkpoint – where he was photographed by security cameras – and headed for the countryside, southwest of San Antonio. Looks like 73 migrants boarded trucks to or near Laredo on Monday and had their phones confiscated, some family members told the Associated Press.
Authorities said Zamorano, for unknown reasons, then abandoned the truck next to train tracks in San Antonio around 6 p.m. Monday. Nearby people heard the screams of survivors and called 911.
When San Antonio police responded, they made a macabre discovery: piles of bodies, hot to the touch, spread across the back of a truck and dumped onto the street and nearby.
“I have too many bodies here,” one employee responded over the radio, reporting Saint Anthony Express-News.
The complaint said Zamorano, who was found in a nearby palm tree, attempted to disguise himself as the victim. However, first responders didn’t buy it, and took him into custody while taking the survivors in the truck to a local hospital.
Zamorano faces the same charges and sentence as Martinez for his role in the deadliest smuggling case in US history.
Facebook account for Zamorano and Martinez List the pair as friends. Martinez’s profile says he works at Walmart, while Zamorano’s page lists him as single and from Brownsville, Texas — another city on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Also arrested in connection with the tragedy were Mexican citizens Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, after authorities found them at an address related to the large rig. They were arrested for possession of a weapon while illegally residing in the US – a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Martinez, who appears to be living in a modest weatherproofed home in Palestine, Texas, has been investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, the criminal complaint said. After the truck was discovered on Monday, authorities say that Martinez admitted to a confidential informant prior to his arrest that he was involved and that he did not know that the vehicle’s AC broken download. He also said Zamorano – whom he calls “Homer” – tried to run away from authorities.
Regarding the victims, it has been confirmed that 27 Mexicans, 14 Hondurans, 7 Guatemalans and 2 Salvadorans have died, according to Francisco Garduño, head of the Mexican government’s National Migration Institute.
Families from Mexico and Central America have since used social media to remember their loved ones, while authorities in the US have yet to reveal their own identities.
Deaths, then a car crash kill four migrants days later in Texas, rekindled a heated debate in the United States over immigration at the country’s southern border.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican running for re-election, was quick to blame President Joe Biden for Monday’s tragedy.
“These deaths are on Biden,” Abbott tweeted Monday night. “They are the result of his deadly open door policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Texas, immigration organizations have pointed in the opposite direction, citing strict immigration laws as the reason migrants seeking a better life in America must first put their lives — and often, their savings — in the hands of smugglers.
“We are appalled and dismayed by the terrible and tragic loss last night in our community in San Antonio,” said RAICES San Antonio, an immigration and refugee center. “At least 50 lives have been lost because of an inhuman immigration system and criminalization of asylum seekers within our borders.”