How will authorities identify immigrant victims in hot truck tragedy?

Officials detail how they will help identify and link victims with family in hot truck tragedy...

SAN ANTONIO - The investigation continues in the deaths of 10 immigrants inside the hot tractor-trailer; but how will authorities identify the victims?

That’s one of the questions KENS 5 asked when we sat down with a retired ICE Agent.

What investigators will do first is look for a victim's ID or any form of identification. If that's not available, authorities will interview the survivors.

That's because very few immigrants travel alone. Most make the trek to cross border lines with family.

"Immediately it's a humanitarian issue and they will address it as such. The investigation stuff will come at its proper time," Jace Calderas, retired Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent, said.


Calderas says the first priority is taking care of the victims.

"Make sure they get the medical care they need, get them stabilized," Calderas said.

From there, investigators will figure out who these immigrants are and where they came from.

"I'm sure there are multiple nationalities," Calderas said. "So they're going to need some help from the consulate officers to help identify the people."

The government is also focusing on the driver in custody.

"It seemed like a fairly typical smuggling operation," Calderas said. "The organization will first get them across the border, get them to a stash house where I believe in this case was somewhere in Laredo. Then they stage them from the stash house, the transport."

With the driver's help, investigators can move forward in dismantling the smuggling organization.

With the public's help, too, more criminal organizations could be stopped.

Calderas suggests calling authorities if you spot anything suspicious.

"Like this, large of groups of people around an 18-wheeler around midnight, 1 o'clock in the morning," Calderas said.

Does a person appear to be in distress? If they look fearful, nervous, or they're avoiding eye contact, that could be a red flag.

Calderas says in cases like these, had the Walmart employee not called 911, the death toll could be much higher.

"It just goes to show the disregard for the safety of the people they're smuggling," he said. "They just view them as a commodity and have no regard for their well-being."

If you notice any of the smuggling signs, or if you think your loved one could have been in the trailer of the 18-wheeler, call the ICE Tip Line 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

If you visit locator.ice.gov, you can also verify if someone you know is in custody.

All survivors will be investigated by ICE officials. Authorities will likely grant the immigrants S Visas so they may serve as witnesses in the investigation.

Others might be deported, but that remains unclear.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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