24 July 2017, The Tablet

Texas Archbishop expresses horror after nine die in human trafficking 'tragedy'

The victims were crammed into a sweltering tractor-trailer in 38 degree heat found parked outside a Walmart store

Texas Archbishop expresses horror after nine die in human trafficking 'tragedy'

The Archbishop of San Antonio, Texas, has expressed horror at the deaths of at least nine victims of human smuggling or trafficking found yesterday (23 July).

“There are no words to convey the sadness, despair, and yes, even anger, we feel today at learning of [these] completely senseless deaths,” said Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller in a statement issued today (24 July). “We also fervently pray for the recovery of health for about 30 other adults and children who are currently hospitalised, with news reports stating that the majority of those are fighting for their lives with serious injuries."

The victims were crammed into a sweltering tractor-trailer found parked outside a Walmart store. The driver was arrested and nearly 20 others rescued from the 18-wheeled trailer were hospitalised in dire condition, many with extreme dehydration and heatstroke, officials said.

“We’re looking at a human-trafficking crime,” San Antonio police chief William McManus said, calling the event “a horrific tragedy.”

Authorities were called to the San Antonio parking lot late on Saturday night or early Sunday and found eight dead inside the truck. A ninth victim is said to have died in hospital.

The temperature in San Antonio is said to have reached 38 degrees C on Saturday night. The trailer did not have a working air conditioning system. 

Based on initial interviews with survivors, more than 100 people may have been packed into the back of the truck at some point in its journey, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Thomas Homan said. Thirty-nine were inside when rescuers arrived and the rest were believed to have escaped or hitched rides to their next destination, officials said.

Some of the survivors told officials they were from Mexico. 

“By any standard, the horrific crime uncovered last night ranks as a stark reminder of why human smuggling networks must be pursued, caught and punished,” Homan said in a statement.

PICTURE: Eight people were found dead in a trailer carrying illegal immigrants at the Walmart parking area pictured in southern Texas City of San Antonio early on Sunday morning, authorities said




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