The recent deaths of 10 people who were crammed into an overheated tractor-trailer has again highlighted the hazards of the human smuggling industry in Texas.
In July, the Department of Justice charged a truck driver accused of involvement in a human-trafficking incident. At least 10 people died in the parking lot of a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas and dozens more were injured. Police said as many as 100 immigrants were packed inside the trailer.
A federal complaint was brought against James Matthew Bradley Jr. The 60-year-old truck driver was charged with one count of transporting illegal aliens. The charge carries the possibility of the death penalty, reported The Hill.
Bradley denied knowledge that nearly 40 people were in the trailer he said he was transporting from Iowa to Texas. The trucker said he discovered the undocumented immigrants when he stopped at the Walmart in San Antonio for a bathroom break. He said he heard banging from inside the trailer. He claimed he was knocked to the ground by Hispanic people when he opened up the trailer. The Justice Department said all of those found in the semitrailer were undocumented immigrants.
San Antonio police chief William McManus said the department was looking into a “human-trafficking crime.”
San Antonio fire chief Charles Hood said there was no sign the undocumented immigrants had been given any water.
A report in The Guardian noted the incident was just the latest smuggling-by-truck operation to result in tragedy in Texas.
In 2003, police found 19 dead immigrants locked in a big rig in Victoria, Texas.
The federal authorities take human trafficking crimes extremely seriously. Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said in a statement after the recent incident:
“To maximize their criminal profits, these human smugglers crammed more than 100 people into a tractor trailer in the stifling Texas summer heat resulting in 10 dead and 29 others hospitalized.”
He said human smugglers again paid no regard to lives and pledged to track down the traffickers and bring them to justice.
Human traffickers are often prosecuted under federal law. Texas has also bolstered sentences for this crime.
In 2011, Texas passed legislation that imposes life sentences for convictions for trafficking humans for sex or forced labor in the Lone Star State.
If you have been charged with human trafficking, you are likely to be facing a very serious punishment. Our Dallas criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience in fighting federal charges in Texas.