Agent: Deaths tied to smuggling ring
SAN ANTONIO — Investigators believe that a truck driver charged in the deaths of 10 people who had been crammed inside a tractor-trailer is a member of a larger human-smuggling organization, a U.S. immigration official said Tuesday.
Some of the 29 identified survivors have told authorities that they hired smugglers who transported them across the U.S. border, loaded some of them onto trucks that took them to the tractor-trailer, and marked them with different colored tape to identify them to various smugglers who would pick them up after the tractor-trailer reached its destination.
“We’re certainly not stopping at looking at the driver,” said Shane Folden, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations office in San Antonio.
The driver, James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Fla., faces charges of illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain, resulting in death. Authorities said he drove a trailer full of migrants from south Texas before it was discovered early Sunday in the parking lot of a San Antonio Wal-Mart.