The Texas man accused of directing the botched smuggling run that killed 53 people in a crowded tractor trailer from excessive heat told a confidential government whistleblower the driver had no idea the air conditioning had stopped working.
Texas federal court filings also show that Christian Martinez, 28, sent a series of frantic texts to suspected driver Homero Zamorano, 45, on Monday, shortly after the muggy 18-wheeler went off the radar in the deadliest smuggling incident in U.S. history had disappeared.
“Where are you bro?” Martinez texted at 1:40 p.m., according to court records. Less than two hours later, he fired off at least three more messages with no response, including “Call me bro.”
He sent a final text message around 6:15 p.m., but until then, Zamorano hid in bushes while authorities pulled dozens of bodies from the tractor trailer he’d just driven up Interstate 35 and abandoned on a San Antonio street, the Washington Post reported .
He was also high on methamphetamine, officials later said.
The court filings also say that a government whistleblower who worked for the FBI and the Texas Police Department confirmed that Martinez and Zamorano spoke after the tragedy was discovered.
According to the source, Martinez reportedly said: “The driver was unaware that the air conditioning stopped working and that was why the people died,” according to BBC News.
The articulated lorry carrying the migrants had no sign of water and no working air conditioning or cooling as temperatures soared to 103 degrees in San Antonio on Monday. The victims were hot to the touch and suffered from heat stroke and dehydration inside the truck, where temperatures soared to over 115 degrees, according to first responders.
Both Martinez and Zamorano are facing death-related immigrant smuggling charges, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty. Two others are also facing criminal charges.
The victims came from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
They included a college-educated Honduran couple, Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero, and his fiancée, Margie Támara Paz Grajeda. With the pandemic and two major hurricanes only dampening the economic outlook in the economically battered nation, they made their way to the United States in hopes of a brighter future, according to the Los Angeles Times.
https://nypost.com/2022/07/02/truck-driver-in-texas-migrant-disaster-unaware-ac-was-busted/ Truck driver in Texas migrant disaster, unaware AC has been arrested