Truck Driver Charged With ‘Transporting Illegal Aliens’ After 10 People Die in Stifling Conditions

James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, (center) is escorted out of the federal court house following a hearing Monday in San Antonio. Bradley was arrested in connection with the deaths of 10 people packed into a broiling tractor-trailer.
Eric Gay/AP

Federal prosecutors have charged a Florida man with “transporting illegal aliens” after at least 10 people died crammed into the back of a tractor-trailer in San Antonio. The truck, which had been parked in a Walmart parking lot in blistering heat, contained 39 people in total, all of whom were immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60, “unlawfully transported aliens in violation of law, resulting in the death of ten of the aliens transported,” the Department of Justice said in a statement. “The tenth alien, an adult male, died overnight at a hospital.”

In Bradley’s first court appearance Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Chestney said the crime could result in the death penalty, if Bradley is convicted.

In a statement included with the federal government’s complaint, Homeland Security agent James Lara said Bradley had waived his Miranda Rights and already spoken with law enforcement. As Lara puts it, Bradley says his “boss” tasked him with delivering the trailer to a person in Brownsville, Texas — but did not give him an address or a time frame for delivery.

The statement continues:

“BRADLEY stated when he arrived at the Wal-Mart he exited the vehicle to urinate and he heard banging and shaking in the trailer. BRADLEY said he went to open the doors and was surprised when he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people and knocked to the ground. BRADLEY said he then noticed bodies just lying on the floor like meat. BRADLEY said he knew at least one of them was dead. BRADLEY said he knew the trailer refrigeration system didn’t work and that the 4 vent holes were probably clogged up.”

Prosecutors say Bradley did not call 911.

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SOURCE: NPR, Colin Dwyer