The Florida truck driver suspected in the deaths of 10 illegal aliens in the back of his trailer used for human smuggling could face the death penalty, if convicted.
James Matthew Bradley, Jr. stands charged with one count of transporting illegal aliens resulting in death. Police arrested the truck driver from Clearwater, Florida, at the scene following the discovery of the illegal aliens in the back of his truck. Officials declared eight of the foreign nationals to be dead at the scene. Two additional aliens died since the discovery raising the total number of deaths to 10. All are reported to be adult males.
A criminal complaint obtained by Breitbart Texas reports that Bradley says he was unaware of the presence of the illegal aliens in the back of his truck until he heard them in making noise while he parked at the Walmart in San Antonio.
Investigators said, in the criminal complaint:
Bradley said he was traveling from Laredo to San Antonio, after having the tractor-trailer washed and detailed at a truck stop near Laredo. He intended to take the trailer to Brownsville to deliver it to someone who had purchased it. He stopped at the Wal-Mart and heard banging and shaking in the trailer.
Bradley told the investigators he was “surprised when he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people” when he opened the rear door. He said he was knocked to the ground as they illegal aliens rushed out of the sweltering heat of the trailer. He reportedly admitted knowing the refrigeration systems did not work and that the vent holes were blocked. He claimed to have called his wife after the aliens escaped. Records show he did not call 911.
Interviews with some of the surviving aliens by investigators from Homeland Security Investigations revealed the illegal aliens admitted to paying human smugglers for transportation. They said they came across the Rio Grande River illegally at various times and locations near Laredo. The smugglers packed them into stash houses while they awaited transportation to points inland in the U.S.
One of the aliens told investigators his group of 24 stayed in the stash house for 11 days. On Sunday, smugglers loaded the various groups into the trailer in Laredo. The aliens estimated the total number of “human cargo” in the back of the trailer to be anywhere from 70 to 200 people.
Bradley told investigators he had his trailer truck and trailer washed at a truck wash in Laredo. He later moved the rig to another truck stop where he reportedly had the tractor-trailer “detailed.” He disclosed his final destination to be Brownsville, Texas, where he was delivering the trailer to a new owner. The criminal complaint does not say why he would choose to go through San Antonio, a detour that adds more than 200 miles to the trip.
Bradley allegedly said he did not have a deadline for the delivery, nor did he have a delivery address.
One of the illegal aliens, a Mexican national, told investigators he paid smugglers $5,500 (USD) as a transportation fee to his final destination — San Antonio. He said he paid 11,000 Mexican pesos to Los Zetas-connected cartel members for protection. He paid an additional 1,500 pesos to smugglers who helped him cross the river on a raft. His group of 28 illegal aliens was picked up by a Silverado pickup truck and taken to the trailer. He said they were the last group to join the others already in the trailer.
The smugglers closed the door, locking the illegal aliens inside a pitch black trailer that was already oppressively hot. Smugglers told the aliens they would be transported later that night. They were provided no food or water by the smugglers, according to the criminal complaint.
At about 9 p.m., a smuggler opened the door and advised them they would be departing soon. The smugglers assured the victims they truck would be refrigerated and they would be okay. The illegal aliens were given different colored tape to put on their wrists to indicate who would be picked up by what smuggling groups later.
After about an hour into the journey, the alien being interviewed said many people began having difficulty breathing. They began pounding on the wall to get the driver to stop. He never did.
Some of the aliens found a small hole for ventilation. They took turns using the hole to breathe. When the truck eventually stopped, many people fell to the ground, he said, because they were weak.
When the doors finally opened, many people rushed out of the trailer. He said six black SUV were present to transport some of the aliens from the scene. Those SUVs quickly filled up and departed from the Walmart parking lot.
A second illegal alien told investigators smugglers held him for 11 days in a Laredo stash house. He said there were already 70 people in the trailer when his group of 24 joined the mix. He also reported San Antonio to be his final destination.
A third alien disclosed paying 60,000 pesos (approximately $3,300) for the Mexican portion of his trip. He and his brother crossed the border in Laredo and traveled for one day before being loaded into the trailer. He estimated nearly 200 people to be in the trailer when he got in. The man reported his final destination to be Minnesota.
An ICE official said, “Human smugglers have repeatedly demonstrated that they have absolutely no regard for human life.” The official said the smugglers attempted to maximize their profits by cramming more than 100 people to a tractor-trailer in “the stifling Texas summer heat.” The official said the actions by the smugglers led the the deaths of ten people and hospitalization of 29 more.