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  • NTI.USA
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NewsTrucking

At least 50 people found dead inside tractor-trailer in Texas

Migrant smuggling attempt suspected after bodies found in abandoned truck

At least 50 people are dead after being found Monday evening inside a tractor trailer in San Antonio.

Police were alerted to the parked truck just before 6 p.m., when a worker in a nearby building heard a cry for help, according to San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus.

“A worker found a trailer with doors partially opened and … found a number of deceased people inside,” McManus said during a press conference Monday night. 

Officials said the people inside the truck appeared to be undocumented migrants in a presumed human smuggling attempt into the United States.

Onlookers stand near the scene where a tractor-trailer packed with dozens of bodies was discovered on Monday in San Antonio
Onlookers stand near the scene where a tractor-trailer packed with dozens of bodies was discovered on Monday in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Forty-six people were found dead on the scene Monday night, with sixteen other people — including four children — were taken to nearby medical facilities for further care. Officials have not said if any children were among the deceased.

“The patients that we saw were hot to the touch, they were suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion, no signs of water in the vehicle,” according to San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood. “It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer, but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.” 

The victims include 22 Mexican nationals, seven people from Guatemala and two Hondurans, according to a tweet on Tuesday morning from Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs.

“It’s a huge tragedy, we are in mourning. Mexico joins investigations in the U.S., coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security,” Ebrard said.

Three people were in custody Monday night, but it was unclear if they were connected to the incident, authorities said.

McManus said the investigation has been turned over to the Department of Homeland Security Investigations.

It’s not the first deadly incident involving undocumented migrants trapped in an 18-wheeler in San Antonio’s history. In 2017, 10 undocumentend migrants died of heat exposure/asphyxiation after being locked inside a tractor-trailer at a Walmart parking lot.

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3 Comments

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact nmahoney@freightwaves.com