‘Stacks of Bodies’: 46 People Found Dead in Trailer, 16 Hospitalized, San Antonio Officials Say

According to the Texas police, they discovered stacks of bodies in San Antonio who were alive but too weak to escape the back of a trailer.

San Antonio, Texas police and fire personnel discovered 46 bodies and 12 adults and 4 children who were alive but too weak to escape the back of a tractor-trailer on Monday evening. The Texas Tribune reports that officials believe the dead and those who were hospitalized are migrants.

On Monday night, federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security assumed control of the investigation into the “alleged human smuggling event.” Three suspects have been detained, but it is unclear what role they played in the incident.

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Police got a call about cries of help from the back of the 18-wheeler shortly before 6 p.m. on Monday. Responders found “stacks of bodies” in the truck, according to San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood, and the survivors were suffering from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. On Monday, San Antonio saw a high of 101 degrees. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a press conference, “This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy.”

Record Crossings

The deaths bring into focus once more the difficulty of regulating the record-breaking numbers of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Stacks of Bodies San Antonio
Stacks of Bodies San Antonio

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) blamed “these deaths are on Biden” and “his deadly open border policies” in a tweet after deploying state troopers and the National Guard in a massive operation to combat human trafficking and other border issues. When a country’s borders are closed, “people will pack themselves into containers to be smuggled across,” Adam Serwer of The Atlantic wrote. “If it’s open you don’t need to do that.”

San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller wrote that “once again, the lack of courage to deal with immigration reform is killing and destroying lives. We do not learn. God teaches us to change.”

The state of Texas has a history of similar incidents. According to The Tribune, in 2017 police in San Antonio discovered 39 undocumented migrants inside a hot tractor-trailer, 10 of whom later died. The driver was sentenced to life in prison. In 2003, 19 more undocumented migrants were found dead from lack of oxygen in a trailer in Victoria, Texas.

According to the National Weather Service, this June has been the hottest on record in San Antonio, with 16 days exceeding 100 degrees. Data collected as far back as 1885 show that nine days of 100 degrees or higher were the previous record.

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