Law enforcement found dozens of migrants trapped inside a tractor-trailer on Monday. Of those found, 53 were either dead on the scene or died later at hospitals.
Only 37 of the victims have been identified. The medical examiner confirmed that 40 of the deceased are male and 13 are female.
The truck was found tipped over on a highway on a day when temperatures in San Antonio hit 100 degrees. Law enforcement officers reported that the truck had no working air condition, ventilation, or source of water inside.
San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood confirmed that rescuers were able to transport 12 adults and four children who survived from the scene to local hospitals. He said all of them were conscious when they were transported but were hot to the touch and obviously suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus confirmed that three persons have been taken into custody as a result of the incident. It is not yet clear if the persons arrested were directly involved in the human trafficking operation. The criminal investigation is being led by U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents.
Reports indicate that the truck involved was a “clone,” or a copy made of trucks owned by a south Texas trucking company. Officials now believe that the truck and its passengers were abandoned in San Antonio when it had some sort of mechanical issue.
A city employee reported the situation when he heard a cry for help from the trailer.
The truck was a clone of trucks owned by Betancourt Trucking and Harvesting, a company located in Alamo, Texas. The clone had the same color and registration numbers as trucks actually operated by that company.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott placed the blame for the deaths squarely on the Biden administration and its policies Monday evening. He posted a tweet saying the “deaths are on Biden” and are “a result of his deadly open border policies.”
Joe Biden issued a statement saying that his “administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry.”
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration has the legal authority to move forward with ending the “Remain in Mexico” policy put in place by President Donald Trump. That policy had required illegal migrants seeking asylum to remain in Mexico while they waited for their court date in federal immigration court.
The ruling was based on a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining the three liberal justices in the majority.