At least 10 people are dead as a result of being transported in a tractor-trailer in severe Texas heat that led to individuals breathing through a single hole in the wall one-by-one, according to a criminal complaint.
Sources at BuzzFeed say James Matthew Bradley, 60, could possibly face a sentence of life imprisonment or death, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release, if convicted for driving the trailer that was found early Sunday.
For now, the Florida driver who claims he was delivering the trailer from Schaller, Iowa, to its new owner in Brownsville, Texas, has already been charged with one count of transporting undocumented immigrants, the Department of Justice said Monday.
Upon arrival, eight people were found dead inside the unrefrigerated trailer, two died overnight, and a total of 30 were treated at a local hospital.
The alleged illegal transporter made claims of being unaware of anyone being in the trailer, in what authorities are describing as a case of ‘horrific’ human trafficking.
He also claims noises of ‘banging and shaking in the trailer’ is what made him come to a halt at Walmart with a ‘surprise’ of around 30 to 40 people running out of the trailer.
More specifically, according to the criminal complaint, “he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people and knocked to the ground.”
Bradley said the bodies were, “just lying on the floor like meat,” and he was knowledgable of the non-functioning refrigeration system; also stating vent holes “were probably clogged up.”
However, the complaint says he initially told the undocumented immigrants otherwise.
They also revealed various groups were smuggled during various times across the Rio Grande River near Laredo, Texas.
Three of the undocumented immigrants estimated about 70 to 200 people were in the trailer during the drive to San Antonio, revealing the varying fees they paid.
While on their way, the individuals on board began to experience problems breathing and eventually started passing out, the complaint said.
Individuals attempted to notify the driver by hitting the trailer walls, but he didn’t stop, according to the undocumented immigrants.
“People had a hole in the trailer wall to provide some ventilation and they started taking turns breathing from the hole,” the complaint states.
The witness said once they arrived, doors opened, they reportedly ran to a total of six SUVs that were waiting to pick them, and left within minutes.
“To maximize their criminal profits, these human smugglers crammed more than 100 people into a tractor-trailer in the stifling Texas summer heat resulting in 10 dead and 20 others hospitalized,” acting US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan said in a statement.
“Human smugglers have repeatedly demonstrated that they have absolutely no regard for human life,” he added, adding that authorities would “pursue these smugglers and bring them to justice.”