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First defendant in San Antonio tractor-trailer tragedy pleads guilty to smuggling charges

2 months 22 hours 51 minutes ago Wednesday, September 27 2023 Sep 27, 2023 September 27, 2023 8:08 PM September 27, 2023 in News - Immigration / Borderwall
Source: https://www.texastribune.org/
By: WILLIAM MELHADO | THE TEXAS TRIBUNE
Law enforcement officers work at the scene where migrants were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio on June 27, 2022. Credit: REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal

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One of the men indicted over last year’s San Antonio tractor-trailer tragedy, in which 53 migrants died, pleaded guilty to several smuggling-related charges on Wednesday, according to the Department of Justice.

Christian Martinez, 29, of Palestine, was involved in the attempt to illegally transport migrants across the southern border, which resulted in the nation’s deadliest human smuggling event after dozens of people were locked in a big rig without water or air conditioning in the Texas summer heat.

An indictment unsealed earlier this year alleged that Martinez drove one of his co-defendants, Homero Zamorano Jr. of Pasadena, 47, to a gas station where Zamorano picked up the trailer. Martinez later communicated messages about the trailer’s progress to others involved in the smuggling activity.

The Justice Department said Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 4. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Federal prosecutors said seven people face a maximum of life in prison as a result of the tragedy. Martinez is the first to plead guilty.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/09/27/texas-migrant-tractor-trailer-truck-deaths-suspect/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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