As voices urge relief for smuggling tragedy survivors, federal jury indicts two main suspects

As voices urge relief for smuggling tragedy survivors, federal jury indicts two main suspects

July 25, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

“On June 27, 2022, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents responded to the scene of a human smuggling event involving a tractor-trailer and 64 individuals suspected of entering the United States illegally,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western District of Texas said. “San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) officers advised HSI Agents that they arrived at the location of the tractor-trailer in southwest San Antonio after receiving 911 calls from concerned citizens.”

“At the scene, SAPD officers discovered multiple individuals, some still inside the tractor-trailer, some on the ground and in nearby brush, many of them deceased and some of them incapacitated. SAPD officers were led to the location of an individual, later identified as Zamorano, who was observed hiding in the brush after attempting to abscond. Zamorano was detained by SAPD officers.” 

Officials said that a search warrant eventually led to the discovery of communications “between Zamorano and Martinez concerning the smuggling event.” Per NBC News, “the June 27 incident is believed to be the deadliest human smuggling case in modern U.S. history.” Nearly two dozen members of the U.S. House have since added their voices to the call urging the Biden administration to protect the survivors of his mass tragedy. 

San Antonio Rep. Joaquin Castro led 22 colleagues in asking the survivors be spared from deportation and detention, and be allowed to access certain humanitarian visas quickly. “As the remaining survivors focus on their recovery at San Antonio hospitals, they should not be worried about their future in the United States,” lawmakers told the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

More than 100 organizations had also urged the administration to shield survivors and allow them to apply for certain visas available to victims of crime, noting that in past mass casualty events, “victims and witnesses have ended up detained and deported within hours after being released from the hospital.”

The Dallas Morning News reports that Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás, a 20-year-old Guatemalan migrant, likely survived because of advice telling her to stay near the semi-truck’s doors, where it would be cooler. “I told a friend that we shouldn’t go to the back and should stay near (the entrance), in the same place without moving,” she said in the report. The friend survived too. CBS News reports that Cardona Tomás began to struggle when the truck began to get more and more full of people. “The people were yelling, some cried,” she said in the report. “Mostly women were calling for it to stop and to open the doors because it was hot, that they couldn’t breathe.”

At least four teens were among the 53 dead, including one child as young as 13. The mother of Pascual Melvin Guachiac Sipac said that the last message she had from her son was a voicemail telling her that he was being taken to a truck. Pascual had been seeking to reunite with his dad in the U.S.

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San Antonio survivors must be allowed to apply for certain visas available to victims, groups say 

At least four teenagers were among the 53 people who died in San Antonio tragedy

San Antonio semi-truck victims sought to help sick loved ones, reunite with family