Truck driver accused after 10 US human trafficking deaths

  • 25/07/2017

A truck driver is due in a US federal court, accused in a suspected human smuggling operation in which 10 people died and dozens more were hospitalised in Texas after being trapped inside a tractor-trailer in sweltering heat.

James Mathew Bradley Jr, 60, was arrested on Sunday after authorities found eight men dead in the back of his truck parked outside a Walmart supermarket in San Antonio. Two more victims died later at hospitals, officials said.

Another thirty people, many in critical condition suffering from heat stoke and exhaustion, were rescued from the truck, which lacked air conditioning and drinking water, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

Outside temperatures topped37.8 Celsius on Sunday. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said the people in the truck, whose nationalities were not immediately known, ranged from school-age children to adults in their 30s.

"All were victims of ruthless human smugglers indifferent to the well-being of their fragile cargo," Richard Durbin Jr, US attorney for the Western District of Texas, said in a statement. "These people were helpless in the hands of their transporters. Imagine their suffering, trapped in a stifling trailer."

It was not immediately known what charges the driver would face. Bradley, from Clearwater, Florida, was due to appear in court in San Antonio on Monday nirbubg, the US attorney's office said.

San Antonio is about 150 miles (240 km) north of the US-Mexico border.

Mexico's government has asked the authorities for an exhaustive investigation, adding that its consul general in San Antonio was working to identify the victims' nationalities.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick expressed sympathy for the victims' families.

US President Donald Trump has vowed to crack down on immigrants living in the country illegally.