We previously reported on the fatal immigrant smuggling bid concerning an overheated transport truck found in Texas found to be packed with migrants with a death toll of at least 10. Now, the driver of the truck, James Bradley Jr. finds himself facing criminal charges after police found 38 people confined in the trailer with no ventilation or water in the sweltering Texas heat. The true number of migrants stuffed into the trailer is currently unknown but could have been as high as 200 as many fled the scene in nearby awaiting vehicles according to witness statements. Bradley has maintained his innocence denying hearing the cries and pleas of help of the individuals trapped in his trailer.

As reported By Al-Jazeera:

James Bradley Jr. was arrested on Sunday after police said they found bodies of eight people in the truck in San Antonio, Texas, a two-hour drive from the US-Mexico border, when one of them approached a Walmart employee asking for water.

The employee brought water and then called police, who found 38 people crammed in the trailer with a broken refrigeration system, parked in the baking Texas heat.

All of them were illegal immigrants, the bulk of them Mexican nationals, ranging in age from 15 into their 20s and 30s, officials said.

Eight people were pronounced dead at the scene and two others died later at the hospital.

Despite hauling the precious “cargo” of potentially 100’s of people, Bradley claims to have not had prior knowledge of this or having heard any commotion or please for help from the people he was “unwittingly” transporting.

The truck driver said he was unaware of the human cargo he was hauling until he took a rest stop in Texas, court papers showed on Monday.

The trailer may have held between 70 to 200 people, with some migrants fleeing in six SUVs that had been waiting when the truck stopped in the parking lot, according to witness accounts given to authorities.

Bradley told investigators he was caught by surprise when he opened the trailer doors, only to be knocked down by a group of “Spanish” people pouring out of the rig, according to the criminal complaint filed in the case.

He made a brief appearance in federal court on Monday in San Antonio, where he was charged with one count of transporting illegal immigrants – a felony for which he could face capital punishment if convicted because the crime resulted in deaths.

A harrowing journey

Describing desperate conditions inside the truck without water or proper ventilation, one survivor recalled people taking turns to gasp for fresh air through a hole in the trailer’s side.

Some passed out, while others shouted and pounded on the walls of the truck to get the driver’s attention. Their pleas went unanswered until arriving at the Walmart, according to the account.

“People began hitting the trailer walls and making noise to get the driver’s attention. The driver never stopped,” according to one of the migrants who was interviewed, identified only as J.M.M-J.

J.M.M-J said he was a Mexican national and part of a group of 29 people being smuggled into the US. He said that after crossing the border they joined 70 migrants already in the truck’s trailer.

According to the migrant’s recollection, his smuggler said “people linked to the Zetas” crime cartel were offering protection for the journey through Mexico to the US border, and that once arriving in the country he was to pay $5,500.

Crossing the border illegally from Mexico has long been a dangerous proposition, according the US Customs and Border Protection, which has documented at least 7,000 deaths among those making the trek since 1998.

What do you think about the criminal charges that Bradley is facing? Do you believe for a second that he did not know what he was doing, or do you think he is part of a larger trafficking ring for which he is covering for? Watch the video below, and share your thoughts in the comments below.

(Article By Tasha Sharifa)

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