Five more people have been charged for the death of 53 migrants in a hot trailer, just as the one year anniversary passes.
The indictment was filed on June 7th and was unsealed Tuesday, June 27th, the one year anniversary of the tragic incident.
According to KSAT News, federal prosecutors allege that 30-year-old Riley Covarrubias-Ponce, 28-year-old Felipe Orduna-Torres, 37-year-old Luis Alberto Rivera-Leal, and 53-year-old Armando Gonzales-Ortega participated in the attempted smuggling of 67 people, leading to the death of 53. One additional suspect’s name has not yet been released because they are not yet in custody.
Four people have already been charged in the scheme – Homero Zamorano Jr., the truck driver in the incident; Christian Martinez, the mastermind in the incident; and two Mexican citizens overstaying their tourist visas, Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao.
Covarrubias-Ponce, Orduna-Torres, and the yet-to-be identified suspect are said to have shared the names of those being smuggled and then provided the empty trailer. Martinez then drove Zamorano to a gas station where he picked up the empty trailer and drove it to Laredo. Groups of migrants were then “transported in box trucks from stash houses to the location of the tractor-trailer,” the indictment reads. Martinez then received information about the truck’s route from Orduna-Torres and passed that information to Zamorano. The group “coordinated, facilitated, passed messages, and made each other aware of the tractor-trailer’s progress” throughout the journey while Martinez “passed along messages and instructions to Zamorano,” the indictment says. Some of the group knew the trailer AC did not work, the indictment says.
When Zamorano arrived at the drop off location and opened the trailer doors, he found most of the migrants dead or dying, and soon ran off to hide in a nearby bush.
“This case illustrates how callous human smugglers can be and what they’re willing to do to turn a profit even when it means costing people their lives,” Craig Larrabee, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio, said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. The incident has been described as the “country’s deadliest human smuggling event.”