A 28-year-old Texas man accused of orchestrating the horrific smuggling operation that killed 53 migrants this week texted the driver in despair as the truck went off radar, and later admitted to a confidential source that he had no idea the air-conditioning was down in sweltering big-rig, the Feds say.
Christian Martinez, 28, was arrested on Tuesday on a charge of human trafficking resulting in death, which could earn him life imprisonment or the death penalty, after migrants reportedly struggled with crippling temperatures of up to 150 degrees inside the truck.
Martinez’s string of lyrics, featuring the suspect’s driver of the semi-trailer truck, 45-year-old Homero Zamorano Jr., was detailed in a criminal complaint obtained by The Daily Beast on Friday.
The complaint says the first text message came at 12:17 p.m. Monday, when Martinez texted his alleged accomplice a photo of the tractor-trailer’s “manifesto.”
Zamorano reportedly replied two minutes later, “I’m going to the same place.”
After 30 minutes, the complaint said, Martinez responded by texting Zamorano an address: 3108 Chacon Street in Laredo, Texas — an industrial area just three miles from the Mexico border. But there would be no further replies from Zamorano.
This led to Martinez seemingly becoming frantic, harassing his partner with a barrage of texts that went unanswered.
The complaint states that he wrote an abridged version of “Where are you, brother?” at 1:40 p.m
Martinez reportedly texted three more times at 3:18 p.m., sending, “Call me bro,” “Yes,” “Call me bro.”
Federal police say Martinez sent a final text message at 6:17 p.m., in which he again wrote the initials, “Wya?”
As Martinez texted, authorities said Zamorano drove the big rig through the Laredo checkpoint — where it was photographed by security cameras — and headed toward the rural, southwest end of San Antonio. It appears the 73 migrants boarded the truck in or near Laredo on Monday and their phones were confiscated, some family members told the Associated Press.
Authorities say Zamorano then left the truck parked next to railroad tracks in San Antonio around 6 p.m. Monday for unknown reasons. People nearby heard the screams of survivors and called 911.
When San Antonio police responded, they made a grisly discovery: Mounds of bodies, hot to the touch, spilled across the back of the truck and spilled onto the road and nearby brush.
“I have too many bodies here,” said an answering officer over the radio who was reporting San Antonio Express News.
The complaint said Zamorano, who was found “hidden” in nearby scrub, tried to disguise himself as a victim. However, first responders did not buy it and took him into custody while they took the truck’s survivors to local hospitals.
Zamorano faces the same charges and possible punishment as Martinez for his role in what has been reported as the deadliest smuggling incident in US history.
Facebook accounts for Zamorano and Martinez list the pair as friends. According to Martinez’s profile, he worked at Walmart, while Zamorano’s page lists him as single and from Brownsville, Texas, another city on the US-Mexico border.
Also arrested in connection with the tragedy were Mexican nationals Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez after authorities found them at an address linked to the Big Rig. They were arrested on charges of possessing guns while in the US illegally – a charge carrying up to 10 years in prison.
Martinez, who appears to live in a modest weatherboard home in Palestine, Texas, has already been investigated by Homeland Security, the criminal complaint said. After the truck’s discovery Monday, authorities said Martinez admitted to a confidential informant before his arrest that he was involved and that he was unaware that the truck’s air conditioning had failed. He also said Zamorano – whom he dubbed “Homer” – tried to run away from authorities.
As for the casualties, it has been confirmed that 27 Mexicans, 14 Hondurans, seven Guatemalans and two Salvadorans died, according to Francisco Garduño, head of the Mexican government’s National Migration Institute.
Families from Mexico and Central America have since turned to social media to remember their loved ones, while US authorities themselves are yet to reveal identities.
The deaths, which followed a car crash that killed four migrants days later in Texas, have reignited the tense debate in the US over immigration at the country’s southern border.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican running for re-election, was quick to blame Monday’s tragedy on President Joe Biden.
“These deaths are Biden’s fault,” Abbott tweeted Monday night. “They are the result of his deadly open borders policy. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
Elsewhere in Texas, meanwhile, immigrant organizations have pointed the other way, citing tough immigration laws as the reason migrants seeking a better life in America must first put their lives — and often their life savings — in the hands of smugglers.
“We are appalled and dismayed by the terrible and tragic loss of life in our community here in San Antonio last night,” said RAICES San Antonio, a refugee and immigrant center. “At least 50 lives have been lost because of an immigration system that dehumanizes and criminalizes those seeking asylum within our borders.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/feds-detail-frantic-texts-between-christian-martinez-and-homero-zamorano-in-san-antonio-migrant-truck-tragedy?source=articles&via=rss Feds detail desperate texts between Christian Martinez and Homero Zamorano in migrant truck tragedy in San Antonio