Driver of Texas migrant truck was 'very high on meth' when arrested

From WWW.DAILYMAIL.CO.UK

The semi-truck driver who transported up to 100 migrants across the southern border before leaving them to die in the sweltering Texas heat tried to disguise himself as a victim of the tragedy.

Surveillance cameras captured Homero Zamorano, 45, driving the rig across the border hours before he allegedly abandoned it on a road in the outskirts of San Antonio.

Police say Zamorano, of Houston, was 'very high on meth' at the time of his arrest and tried to pose as 'an irregular immigrant to avoid being detained.'

Mexican nationals Juan Francisco D'Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D'Luna-Mendez were also taken into custody at a home in San Antonio. They were charged in federal court Tuesday with possessing firearms while residing in the US illegally.

The incident, which left 51 dead, marks the deadliest human smuggling attempt in American history. Officials have identified 34 of the deceased, which included four Hondurans and two Guatemalan sisters.

Police say the smugglers treated the migrants 'worse than animals' throughout the voyage, leaving them no water or visible means of air-conditioning. Several survivors are in critical condition after suffering brain damage and internal bleeding.

Investigators suspect the migrants paid the smugglers around $10,000 for safe passage to the US.

Zamorano was photographed driving the trailer through the immigration checkpoints in Encinal, Texas, about 34 miles from the Mexico border, around 2.50pm Monday.

The truck was founded abandoned near San Antonio, about 160 miles from the border, around 6pm. Investigators suspect the truck had suffered some sort of mechanical problem.

The driver and suspected human smuggler pretended to be an illegal migrant when authorities confronted him, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador revealed during a news briefing Wednesday.

'The driver tried to pass himself off as one of the survivors,' Obrador said, noting the National Institute of Migration had no data on Zamorano.

'ICE reported that three people are already detained as allegedly responsible for human trafficking and homicide,' the president added.

Zamorano was arrested Monday in a desolate area near Lackland Air Force Base after having tried to pass himself off as a survivor.

'He was very high on meth when he was arrested nearby and had to be taken to the hospital,' a law enforcement official confirmed to The San Antonio Express News.

He was taken to a local hospital for treatment and is expected to charged soon.

D'Luna-Bilbao and D'Luna-Mendez were arrested at a residence in the 100 block of Arnold Drive after officers traced the semi's registration to the property.

The residence was placed under surveillance and both men were arrested as they attempted to leave the property.

Obrador also confirmed that Zamorano had been driving a semi with a stolen registration, saying: 'The plates, logos and license were cloned.'

Officials had first linked Zamorano's rig to an Alamo resident. However, investigation proved the Alamo man's truck had been out hauling grain in another part of Texas at the time of the incident.

Isaac Limon, whose father-in-law owned the truck whose data was cloned, told The Washington Post: 'It was a perfect setup.'

'His DOT Number was illegally copied onto the truck...' he added. 'He is not the owner of the truck in San Antonio that is involved in this tragic event.'

'Sad to say, but he's a bit of a victim, too, because people believe it was him.'

Law enforcement officials believe Zamorano was transporting around 100 migrants in the rig, but the exact number remains unclear.

Homeland Security Investigations agents confirmed migrants typically pay $8,000 to $10,000 to be taken across the southern boarder, loaded into the tractor-trailer and driven to San Antonio.

Once in San Antonio they are transferred to smaller vehicles to be taken to their final destinations across the US.

Medical examiners have potentially identified 34 of the victims, said Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores, who represents the district where the truck was abandoned.

But she says the identification process has proven to be a 'tedious, tedious, sad, difficult process' as many victims have been found with stolen IDs or no identification documents at all.

Officials have identified 34 of the deceased, but the identification process has proven slow as victims have been found with stolen IDs or no identification documents at all.

The deceased migrants included 39 men and 12 women. County officials told WOAI-TV five of the victims were under the age of 18. Investigators said they were not young children, but possibly teenagers.

The Honduran government on Wednesday released the names of several victims including Adela Betulia Ramirez Quezada and brothers Fernando Jose Redondo Caballero and Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero.

Alejandro Caballero's girlfriend, Margie Tamara Paz Grajera, was also among the deceased.

She studied at the National Autonomous University of Honduras, according to local news outlet La Prensa.

Her social media accounts revealed she was well-loved by family, friends and boyfriend, Caballero.

'I love you my baby,' Grajera wrote in a recent post to Alejandro Caballero.

Sisters Carla and Griselda Carac-Tambriz, of Guatemala, were the first victims to be named in wake of the tragedy. Immigration consultant Fernando Castro Molina confirmed their identities to Guatemalan-based newspaper El Metropolitano on Tuesday afternoon.

'Let's achieve our dreams and also help our family,' one of the sisters reportedly said before the pair embarked on their journey to the U. S.

Guatemala's foreign ministry told DailyMail.com late Tuesday officials were working to identify three possible Guatemalans among the dead.

The governmental agency had confirmed the identities of two hospitalized Guatemalans.

Among the dead are 27 people from Mexico, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and two from El Salvador, he said. One of the victims had no identification, officials revealed.

Officials in Mexico traveled to Guzmán Vásquez's community late Tuesday to find out if his mother wanted to travel to San Antonio to be with him in the hospital.

Manuel Velasco López, San Miguel Huautla's municipal secretary, said that another cousin had been traveling with Guzmán Vásquez and was now considered missing.

Authorities believe the migrants were loaded ... (Read more)



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