The driver of the truck and two other people were arrested shortly after the incident, officials said
Two men arrested in connection with the Texas truck where dozens of people were found dead amid sweltering conditions inside the tractor-trailer this week have been charged by federal prosecutors with possession of illegal weapons, according to court documents.
On Monday, at least 51 people were discovered dead “stacked” inside a truck’s tractor-trailer near San Antonio, Texas, after a nearby worker had heard cries coming from inside the stifling vehicle. Another 16 people, including four children, were taken to local hospitals in varying conditions, according to officials.
Police initially said on Tuesday that three people had been arrested in connection with the gruesome scene.
Late Tuesday night, it was revealed that Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao had been charged with “possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the United States”, according to two separate criminal complaints filed in US District Court for the Western District of Texas, CNN reported.
“Officers searched the Texas registration plate on the semi-truck and found a residence in San Antonio, Texas the truck’s registered address with Texas motor vehicle records,” the affidavit said.
A third man, the truck’s suspected driver, was also arrested this week in connection with the incident that officials are now saying is the deadliest smuggling event to take place on US soil in history. It remains unclear if the suspected driver, who has yet to be identified, has been charged with anything.
Both D’Luna-Mendez and D’Luna-Bilbao, who are identified in court documents as being Mexican nationals, are being held without bond, The Hill reported. They are facing a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if they are convicted.
The pair had reportedly entered the US on B-2 visas, a classification that entitles visitors to “enter the United States temporarily for business, for tourism, or for a combination of both purposes”, according to the State Department’s website. It is a non-immigrant visa and is only valid for people seeking medical treatment, tourism, visiting relatives, visiting for recreational purposes, or enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree.
In the affidavit, it states that two men were pulled over in separate traffic stops after officers had traced the plates to a Texas residence. When officers pulled Mr D’Luna-Bilbao over, the man reportedly told officers there was a firearm in the console of the truck he was driving.
When officers received a search warrant for the residence where the two were staying in the Dellview community, they uncovered multiple firearms in both men’s bedrooms, including handguns and a shotgun, court documents said.
NBC News reported that San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg had called the two men “persons of interest”.
The investigation into Monday’s incident is being handled by the Department of Homeland Security.