Two suspects charged as horrific details emerge from San Antonio truck with 51 deceased migrants

The tractor-trailer carried at least 62 people, 51 of whom died

Updated: June 28, 2022 - 9:38pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Authorities arrested two Mexican citizens in connection to the botched smuggling attempt that resulted in the deaths of at least 51 illegal migrants in a sweltering, abandoned tractor-trailer on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas.

The foreign nationals, Juan Francisco D'Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D'Luna-Mendez, were charged in U.S. federal court on Tuesday with possessing firearms while illegally residing in the United States, Reuters reported.

A U.S. citizen who drove the vehicle was taken into custody, but he was still hospitalized as of Tuesday evening, a Mexican official told the outlet. The American driver will likely face charges.

The driver fled the truck on foot and was arrested, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told The New York Times.

The deceased victims included 39 men and 12 women, making it one of the deadliest modern human trafficking incidents. Five of the 51 migrants were under 18, News4 San Antonio reported. 

Twelve adults and four children were sent to hospitals.

The tractor-trailer carried at least 62 people, 51 of whom died by Tuesday, the NYT observed.

Officials found bodies inside of the truck and strewn over several blocks after the rear door opened, a local law enforcement source told Reuters.

A local law enforcement official told the Texas Tribune that some people appear to have tried jumping out of the vehicle as it went along.

No visible signs of water or air conditioning were inside of the truck, which contained "stacks of bodies" with migrants that were hot to touch, authorities said. Temperatures in San Antonio hit a high of 103 degrees on Monday, and vehicle temperatures can rise far higher in such conditions.

Many victims appeared to have been covered with steak seasoning, possibly in order to hide the human scent, the local official said.

"I have been warning for a year that a tragedy was going to occur because of the increase in truck smuggling," former Trump Immigration and Customs Enforcement official Tom Homan explained. "In California, Arizona, Texas, they have been seeing a lot of tractor-trailers... They can pick up eight in a van, 12 in a pickup truck or get at least 80 in a tractor-trailer."