A 61-year-old San Antonio man pleaded guilty to two federal charges in the human smuggling incident that led to the deaths of 10 undocumented immigrants this summer.
James Matthew Bradley Jr., who appeared before a U.S. magistrate judge Monday, pleaded guilty to “one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.
The office added that Bradley’s “admission of guilt” meant he packed dozens of unauthorized immigrants into a tractor-trailer for financial gain, adding that the suspect confirmed that details from court documents were “factually correct.”
On July 23, San Antonio Police Department officers responded to a call from a Walmart employee shortly past midnight. Once officers arrived, they found 39 immigrants at the scene. The statement stated that eight of those in the tractor-trailer were discovered dead at the back, and two others died in nearby hospitals.
Survivors claimed that there was no AC in the trailer , and they had to each take turns inhaling through the hole at the back to get air. Investigators were also told that Bradley initially claimed he didn’t know about the immigrant trailer, until he stopped by the Walmart in San Antonio to take a bathroom break.
The attorney’s office also said Bradley faces up to life in prison with the charges and that he is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2018. Immigrants said there were up to 200 people transported on the trailer and that different fees were quoted to them for the ride north from the U.S.-Mexico border, the statement added.
Jason Buch, of San Antonio Express News , told the NewsHour that Border Patrol agents from Laredo (Texas) reported earlier this year that there was an increase in immigrants who used tractor-trailers for passage through border checkpoints.
People are most likely to travel to large metropolitan areas, or areas of the country with a lot immigrant workers, such as areas that have an abundance of construction booms or agriculture.
Shane M. Folden was the special agent responsible for homeland security investigations in San Antonio. He stated that this proceeding would “help to close the door against one of the conspirators who caused the tragic loss in life and wreak havoc on the survivors of this horrible incident .”
” This case is a stark reminder that alien smugglers can be driven by greed and have no regard for the well-being and health of their cargo which could prove deadly combination.”
Bradley was also indicted. He faces two charges of conspiracy as well as two counts for transporting undocumented immigrant resulting in severe bodily injury and putting lives at risk.
Segura, 47, is an undocumented immigrant who resides in Laredo, Texas.
Left: Police officers work on a crime scene after 10 undocumented immigrants being smuggled into the U.S. were found dead inside a sweltering 18-wheeler trailer parked behind a Walmart store in San Antonio. Photo by Ray Whitehouse/Reuters