Trucker Charged After Deadly Trafficking Incident
Human trafficking has been a problem that the trucking industry has worked against for years. It is no surprise that the size of commercial vehicles leads some people to try their luck shipping illegal cargo across borders. Sometimes this leads to the serious humanitarian issue of trafficking, despite the efforts of many truck drivers and carriers to stop it.
One truck driver from Clearwater is now facing federal charges after nine immigrants were discovered dead inside his trailer at a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas. The deaths are being attributed to the sweltering conditions inside the container, where temperatures reportedly soared to over 100 degrees.
The truck was discovered with a whopping 39 people inside of it, including children. Immigration investigators said that twenty of those individuals were in critical condition. It’s also been said that the truck may have transported over 100 people at one point, with some already being picked up and others fleeing.
Not only did the trailer lack working air conditioning, but it had no water. The gruesome scene was discovered when a Walmart employee was tipped off by one of the individuals asking for something to drink. Pyle Transportation, the Iowa-company with which the truck is registered, has declined to comment on the issue at this point.
Four of the survivors were said to be minors. Investigators have said it could take months to conduct a complete investigation about this serious issue.
This isn’t the first horror-story involving a human trafficking incident that took a fatal turn. A 2003 case saw 19 people perish in the smoldering trailer of a commercial truck, in what was called the most deadly and documented incident of human trafficking in U.S. history.
The incident occurred when Tyrone M. Williams had accepted a fee of $7,500 to transport passengers through a border checkpoint 120-miles away. After two other smugglers who were supposed to meet up with Williams got detained, the driver was ordered to take his passengers an additional 200 miles.
The driver, who was piloting a dairy truck, never activated the refrigeration unit. It is estimated that the temperature rose to over 173 degrees. Williams received 40 years in prison, and 13 others were indicted for their involvement in the incident.