Two indicted in deadly smuggling case

July 22, 2022

Ryan Witkowski

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Two men are facing charges in connection with the deaths of 53 migrants during a human smuggling operation in late June.

On July 20, a federal grand jury in San Antonio returned an indictment against two Texas men charged in the fatal incident that occurred on June 27. The smuggling attempt resulted in the death of 50 adults and three minors, and injuring 11 others.

Homero Zamorano Jr., 46, of Pasadena, Texas, and Christian Martinez, 28, of Palestine, Texas, have been charged in a federal indictment with multiple counts connected to the alleged smuggling case, including:

  • Conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death.
  • Transportation of illegal aliens resulting in death.
  • Conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy.
  • Transportation of illegal aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy.

If convicted, the charges for conspiracy to transport and transport resulting in death could result in life in prison or the death penalty.

The determination to seek the death penalty will be made by the state attorney general prior to the case going to trial. Additionally, the two men face up to 20 years in prison for the charges of transporting resulting in serious bodily injury.

On June 27, the San Antonio Police responded to a 911 call regarding an abandoned truck and trailer. At the scene, officers discovered multiple individuals inside the trailer, as well as some on the ground and in nearby brush. Upon arrival, many of the migrants were deceased and others incapacitated.

Zamorano was identified and detained by officials after he was observed hiding in the brush while attempting to flee. Surveillance footage of the tractor-trailer crossing an immigration checkpoint would later confirm Zamorano as the driver of the vehicle.

Upon executing a search warrant on a cell phone belonging to Zamorano, investigators discovered communications between Zamorano and Martinez concerning the smuggling event. 

Additionally, a grand jury returned indictments against two Mexican citizens, Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, 23, and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, 48. Both face charges of possession of a firearm while unlawfully present in the United States. If convicted, each could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. LL

 

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