Authorities ID 47 of the migrants found dead inside an abandoned truck in San Antonio
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Most of the 53 migrants who died in what appears to be the deadliest human smuggling case in modern U.S. history have been identified, authorities said.

As of Wednesday, the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office has “conclusively identified” 47 of the people found dead inside an abandoned tractor-trailer in San Antonio last week.

Of them, 22 were from Mexico, 19 from Guatemala and six from Honduras. Their ages range from 13 to 55, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Image:
Authorities work at the scene where a truck with multiple bodies was discovered in San Antonio on June 27, 2022.Eric Gay / AP file

The medical examiner’s office also released a list of the names, ages and nationalities of 22 of the migrants already identified.

Four of the fatal victims were minors. Guatemalan teens Pascual Melvin Guachiac Sipac, 13, and Juan Wilmer Tulul Tepaz, 14, are the youngest victims so far, alongside Mexican 16-year-olds Misael Olivares Monterde and Yovani Valencia Olivares.

Different consulates have been assisting the medical examiner’s office in the process of identifying all the fatal victims, the agency said in a statement. They are still working together to identify the six remaining victims.

The names of nearly half of the fatal victims were released a week after charges were filed against four men in connection with the human smuggling case.

On June 27, San Antonio police and Homeland Security investigators found 64 migrants, some inside the truck, in the sweltering Texas heat and others in its vicinity, according to the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas. Forty-eight of them died at the scene and 16 others were transported to hospitals. Five of those 16 people died at the hospital.

Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, is facing one count of “alien smuggling” resulting in death and Christian Martinez, 28, is facing one count of conspiracy to transport migrants resulting in death, according to the U.S. attorney.

Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, 23, and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, 48, are facing charges of illegally possessing weapons. Both Mexican citizens were taken into custody after San Antonio police staked out a Texas address where the tractor-trailer was registered.

Zamorano Jr. and Martinez are Texas residents.

Immigrants from Mexico and Central America attempting to cross the U.S. southern border are still frequently expelled under Title 42, the Covid-19 public health order that prevents migrants from crossing the border to claim asylum. 

Advocates have criticized the policy for forcing migrants to take dangerous routes to evade detection.

“Our current broken system empowers reckless human smugglers and traffickers and incentivizes dangerous treks to our southern border,” Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Director of America’s Voice, an immigration policy reform advocacy organization, said after the tragedy. 

 The Biden administration sought to lift Title 42 on May 23 but was stopped by a federal judge who sided with Republican states who sued the administration to keep it in place, at least temporarily. 

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Dennis Romero contributed.

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