4 Men Arrested In Connection With Human Trafficking That Left 53 Dead

(RepublicanNews.org) – Four more alleged human traffickers have been arrested following their roles in a 2022 incident that resulted in the deaths of 53 migrants. The arrests were made throughout Texas on June 26th and all the suspects were Mexican nationals.

June 27th marked the one-year anniversary of authorities discovering an abandoned tractor-trailer in San Antonio. Sixty-four migrants were found inside, 48 of which had already died. Sixteen were sent to hospitals, but a further 5 died. Eight children were among the dead.

The migrants were found to have succumbed to extreme temperatures and a lack of air circulation during a three-hour trip from Laredo to San Antonio. Authorities said the smugglers were aware the air-conditioning unit on the trailer was malfunctioning before they loaded the migrants onto it. Temperatures inside the trailer were said to have reached at least 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Justice Department has identified the arrested men as Felipe Ordune-Torres, 28; Armando Gonzales-Ortega, 53; Riley Covarrubias-Ponce, 30; and Luis Alberto Rivera-Leal, 37.

All four men face the same charge of conspiracy to transport immigrants resulting in death, serious bodily injury, and placing lives in jeopardy. The maximum penalty if convicted is life in prison.

Two other men were previously arrested shortly after the discovery of the trailer. Homero Zamorano Jr. was found near the truck hiding and was allegedly high on meth at the time. Zamorano’s phone records yielded a connection to Christian Martinez, who was arrested in Palestine two days later. Both men face the same charge as the other four.

The federal grand jury indictment against the men alleges they were involved with human smuggling routes in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. Through their “patchwork association,” they had access to safe houses, trailers, and trucks. They also facilitated the sharing of guides and routes.

The indictment alleges that their criminal organization charged up to $15,000 per migrant to be smuggled over the U.S. border.

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