EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The government of Mexico says it has arrested – and indicted – six people allegedly linked to the deadliest migrant smuggling case in U.S. history.
The accused members of a ring of people smugglers allegedly had a role in facilitating the transit of 53 citizens of Mexico and Central America to the U.S. border, where the driver of a tractor-trailer picked them up. He allegedly bailed hours later near San Antonio after realizing they had succumbed to sweltering temperatures inside the box.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office identified the six suspects only by their first name and the initial of their paternal last name. They are Melesio B., Hermelindo B., Adrian B., Sheyla B., Yoana N., and Jessica P. It is not clear if the first four are related.
A Mexican judge indicted the suspects for their “probable responsibility of the crime of aggravated trafficking of people” in connection with the June 27, 2022, migrant deaths north of the border, the AG’s Office said in a statement.
The judge is keeping the six behind bars to prevent flight while Mexican authorities continue their investigation.
U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar on Tuesday hailed the latest development in a tragedy borne out of poverty in rural Mexico and Central America and exacerbated by the greed of migrant smugglers.
“A great example of U.S.-Mexico cooperation. We appreciate (the Federal Attorney General’s) efforts to dismantle human smuggling networks,” Salazar said on social media. “Six people were indicted for the fatal incident in San Antonio, Texas. A step toward justice for the families of (those) who lost their lives.”
In the U.S., four men are being held in connection with the deaths. They include the driver, 45-year-old Homero Zamorano Jr. of Palestine, Texas; and Christian Martinez, 28; Juan Francisco de Luna Bilbao, 48; and Juan Claudio de Luna Mendez, 23. Zamorano faces life in prison or the death penalty on charges of migrant smuggling resulting in death.
Salazar on Tuesday urged foreign nationals considering migrating to the United States to do it through legal pathways.
“I would like to take this opportunity to remind migrants not to place their lives in the hands of smugglers with no scruples. Legal mechanisms are in place to request asylum,” he tweeted.