Four arrested in tragic smuggling deaths of 53 migrants found in hot trailer

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US authorities on Tuesday announced the arrests of four more people in last year’s smuggling deaths of 53 migrants, including eight children, who were left in a tractor trailer in the scorching Texas summer.

Authorities said the four Mexican nationals were aware that the trailer’s air-conditioning unit was malfunctioning and would not blow cool air to the migrants trapped inside during the nearly three-hour ride. When the trailer was opened in San Antonio, 48 migrants were already dead. Another 16 were taken to hospitals, where five more died.

The driver and another man were arrested shortly after the migrants were found. They were charged with smuggling resulting in death and conspiracy.

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The four new arrests were made Monday in Houston, San Antonio and Marshall, Texas.

Authorities said the smuggling operation transported migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico by sharing routes, guides, stash houses, trucks and trailers, some of which were stored at a private parking lot in San Antonio.

Authorities arrested Riley Covarrubias-Ponce, 30; Felipe Orduna-Torres, 28; Luis Alberto Rivera-Leal, 37; and Armando Gonzales-Ortega, 53. All are charged with conspiracy to transport immigrants resulting in death, serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy. Each faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.

“Human smugglers prey on migrants’ hope for a better life - but their only priority is profit,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “Tragically, 53 people who had been loaded into a tractor-trailer in Texas and endured hours of unimaginable cruelty lost their lives because of this heartless scheme.”

Read more:

Two men indicted in migrant death-trailer case that left 53 dead

Alleged truck driver posed as victim after US migrant deaths

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