(RNN) – Authorities found 54 undocumented immigrants in a tractor trailer in San Antonio on Tuesday and an American citizen is expected to be charged with human smuggling in the case.
The migrants were in good health, with San Antonio fire chief Charles Hood saying the vehicle was air conditioned and supplied with water. Five injured themselves fleeing law enforcement.
Federal officials on Wednesday said they expect Gerardo Javier Carreon, 36, of Laredo, TX, will be charged with federal human smuggling violations.
It was unclear who first discovered the truck, and why they inspected it. San Antonio firefighters first responded to the scene, with multiple law enforcement agencies also arriving.
Last year another tractor-trailer packed with undocumented immigrants was found in San Antonio. In that incident, the migrants were without air conditioning, and eight died while many more suffered serious effects from a lack of air.
“This is a totally different outcome than what we had several months before, where we had the trailer incident down south. It is a feel-good story,” Hood said.
He noted this truck was better prepared.
“This truck was air conditioned, thank God. This truck had water,” he said. “So they were hydrated. They were cool.”
The driver in last year’s case, James Matthew Bradley Jr., pleaded guilty on human smuggling charges and was sentenced to life in prison.
An agent with Homeland Security Investigations said the migrants came from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Brazil.
An official with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) told the San Antonio Express-News the organization was not being allowed by HSI to speak to the migrants.
“We need to respect the basic humanity of those folks and make sure they have access to information about their rights and that their rights are being respected at every stage,” the official, Jenny Hixon, said.
She did praise first responders for how they handled the situation. The paper reported that firefighters bought pizza for the migrants on Tuesday night.
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