The driver of the sweltering tractor-trailer truck where at least 51 migrants were found dead in Texas was allegedly “very high on meth” when he was nabbed, authorities said.
Homero Zamorano, 45, was taken into custody in a nearby field after he allegedly abandoned the 18-wheeler with dozens of migrants stashed in the back in a desolate area in San Antonio on Monday.
“He was very high on meth when he was arrested nearby and had to be taken to the hospital,” a law enforcement official told the San Antonio Express News.
Following the grim discovery of the bodies inside the truck Monday evening, investigators were able to trace the vehicle’s registration to a San Antonio address that they placed under surveillance, authorities said.
They later arrested two other men, Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, when they each left the residence.
D’Luna-Bilbao and D’Luna-Mendez were both charged with possessing firearms while residing in the US illegally, according to the criminal complaints.
It wasn’t immediately clear what alleged involvement those two men had in the smuggling tragedy or if they will face additional charges.
The driver is also expected to be charged, but remained in the hospital as of Tuesday night, a Mexican official said.
The death toll had risen to at least 51 — including 39 men and 12 women — by Tuesday, authorities said. Two young sisters originally from Guatemala — Carla and Griselda Carac Tambriz — were also among the victims.
Authorities have identified at least 27 Mexicans, seven Guatemalans and two Hondurans thus far, according to Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Consul of Mexico Ruben Minutti-Zanatta.
The nationalities of the other victims have yet to be identified.
Local authorities said they were alerted to the tragedy after a city worker heard a cry for help from the back of the truck.
Law enforcement arrived to find the rear door to the trailer open with “stacks of bodies” inside, while others were strewn nearby.
Temperatures in San Antonio reached a high of 103 degrees on Monday.
First responders found 16 survivors suffering heat stroke and exhaustion. The hospitalized survivors—including four children—were hot to the touch and dehydrated, according to first responders.
With Allie Griffin, MaryAnn Martinez and Post wires