SAN ANTONIO — Four suspects have now been officially identified, charged and arrested in connection with this week's deadly human-smuggling event in which San Antonio authorities found dozens of migrants dead in an abandoned semitruck on the far southwest side.
Mere hours after Mexican officials on Wednesday identified the alleged driver of the 18-wheeler as 45-year-old Homero Zamorano Jr., a Brownsville native now living in Pasadena, the Department of Justice confirmed Zamorano as the suspect, saying he was found by SAPD officers in the area Monday night. They later confirmed he was the driver based on surveillance footage at immigration checkpoints in south Texas; he's now been charged with smuggling resulting in death.
Christian Martinez, 28, is also charged with smuggling resulting in death after he was arrested on Tuesday, the DOJ says. Investigators were led to Martinez after finding Zamorano had communicated with him "concerning the smuggling event."
Zamorano and Martinez could be sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty if they're convicted.
Meanwhile, two Mexican men residing in the country illegally were also taken into custody after police found the semitruck was registered to a home on Arnold Drive in north San Antonio, according to arrest documents. Juan Claudio D'Luna-Mendez and Juan Francisco D'Luna-Bilbao were charged with being in possession of a firearm while in the country illegally, charges that could put them behind bars for up to a decade.
According to criminal complaints filed on Tuesday, police found several guns in the Arnold Drive residence while executing a search warrant. While being interviewed by Homeland Security, both men admitted to overstaying their U.S. visas. Neither, however, has been charged with smuggling, and it's unclear as of yet if they are part of the trio of detained suspects mentioned by McManus.
As of Wednesday evening, 53 have died after they were discovered in the trailer, primarily from heat-related sickness. Eleven others are still hospitalized in San Antonio medical facilities.
Homeland Security is leading what is now a federal investigation, in conjunction with ATF and SAPD.