Officials in San Antonio, Texas found 46 bodies in and around an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer, and 16 others were taken to local hospitals in what is presumed to be human trafficking gone wrong.
Shortly before 6pm on Monday a city worker on a remote road heard a cry for help, according to Police Chief Willian McManus. When officers arrived on scene, they found one body on the ground outside the trailer, which was partially open, according to the Associated Press.
🚨#BREAKING: 42+ people found dead inside truck in San Antonio, Texas— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) June 28, 2022
📌#SanAntonio l #Texas
According to emergency personnel, Reportedly an 18 wheeler packed with illegal aliens was found abandoned in the city’s southwestern edge resulting with 42+ dead inside the truck pic.twitter.com/h1PyF6Ud39
The dead range in age from teens to young adults, and are believed to have succumbed to heat stroke and heat exhaustion, as the trailer had no air conditioning and no water as temperatures exceeded 100 degrees.
Of those taken to the hospital 12 were adults and 4 were children - who Fire Chief Charles Hood said were hot to the touch and dehydrated, while no water was found in the trailer.
"They were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion," said Hood. "It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer, but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig."
There were "stacks of bodies" Hood added.
“We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there.” San Antonio Fire Department says 46 dead migrants found inside tractor-trailer were “hot to the touch,” rig had no working air conditioning.— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) June 28, 2022
Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the scene "nothing short of a horrific human tragedy."
Migrants seeking asylum should always be treated as a humanitarian crisis, but this evening we're facing a horrific human tragedy.— Mayor Ron Nirenberg (@Ron_Nirenberg) June 28, 2022
More than 40 hopeful lives were lost. I urge you to think compassionately, pray for the deceased, the ailing, and their families at this moment.
Since authorities presume that the trailer was part of a human trafficking operation to bring people into the United States illegally, the Department of Homeland Security's Investigations unit has taken point on the case.
Authorities took three people into custody.
Big rigs emerged as a popular smuggling method in the early 1990s amid a surge in U.S. border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, which were then the busiest corridors for illegal crossings.
Before that, people paid small fees to mom-and-pop operators to get them across a largely unguarded border. As crossing became exponentially more difficult after the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S., migrants were led through more dangerous terrain and paid thousands of dollars more. -AP
Priests withe the archdiocese are here to provide spiritual support for the first responders & community members impacted by the tragic death of 46 migrants. pic.twitter.com/48Aow1EP0F— @KSATPattySantos (@ksatpattysantos) June 28, 2022
DHS officials released the following statement Monday night:
“On June 27, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) responded to a call from San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) in reference to an alleged human smuggling event involving a tractor trailer on Quintana Road near Cassin Road. Upon arrival in the scene, HSI confirmed more than 40 deceased individuals.
HSI San Antonio has initiated an investigation with support of SAPD. Details will be released as they are available, the criminal investigation remains ongoing.
HSI continues its enforcement efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities. We will continue to address the serious public safety threat posed by human smuggling organizations and their reckless disregard for the health and safety of those smuggled. To report suspicious activity, we encourage people to call the HSI Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. All calls are kept confidential.”
these are the railroad tracks near Quintana Rd & Cassin, where at least 42 people were found dead inside of a tractor trailer. It's a secluded area in Southwest San Antonio. @ksatnews @SATXPolice https://t.co/XDPRAiRVBn— Stephania Jimenez (@KSATSteph) June 28, 2022