FMCSA shuts down trucking company with ties to fatal human smuggling case

A truck driver is facing the possibility of the death penalty after 10 immigrants died from extreme heat after being transported in a scorching trailer that was discovered in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot yesterday.

Ten Dead From Heatstroke, Dehydration

The truckload of baking immigrants was discovered early Sunday morning when a Walmart store employee was contacted by one of the trailer’s occupants who asked for water and said that others inside the trailer needed help. San Antonio police responded to the scene and found that 17 of the 38 people inside were suffering from life threatening injury and illness due to the extreme heat inside the trailer.

As of Monday morning, ten of the people found inside the trailer have passed away.

According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, there were likely more than 100 people inside the truck at one point, but many escaped.

San Antonio police arrested 60 year old Florida-based truck driver James Matthew Bradley Jr. at the scene on Sunday.

Truck Driver Faces State And Federal Human Trafficking Charges

According to a federal criminal complaint filed today, Bradley told police that he was transporting the trailer from Iowa to a location in Texas and had no idea what was inside. According to an ICE news release, “Bradley said he was traveling from Laredo to San Antonio, after having the tractor trailer washed and detailed at a truck stop near Laredo. He intended to take the trailer to Brownsville to deliver it to someone who had purchased it.

From the ICE release:

“Several of the illegal aliens taken from the trailer and interviewed by HSI special agents described how they had been smuggled across the Rio Grande River near Laredo at different times and as part of different groups. They were harbored in one or more stash locations, and on Sunday, the groups were assembled in the trailer. One alien said his group of 24 had been in a “stash house” in Laredo for 11 days before being loaded into the trailer. They estimated the trailer contained between 70 and 180 to 200 people during transport. They described differing fees for being transported.”

Bradley said that he only realized that he was transporting human cargo when he stopped to urinate and heard banging and yelling coming from inside the trailer. He told investigators that he opened up the trailer door and was knocked over by people who he described as “Spanish” as they fled. Bradley told police that he attempted to help the people inside.

The complaint accuses Bradley of failing to call the police even through he knew that there were people who were dead inside the trailer. The complaint also says that Bradley knew that the refrigeration unit on the trailer did not work.

Bradley faces both state and federal charges related to human trafficking. If convicted, he could face the death penalty or life in prison.

The president of trucking company Pyle Transportation Inc. says that the truck was sold to a man in Mexico in May. He also said that Bradley was operating as an independent contractor.

One of the immigrants who survived said that the Zetas Cartel is connected to the incident.

Officials say that the death toll could rise.

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