James Bradley sentenced to life in prison in human smuggling deaths

61-year-old Louisville native pleaded guilty on Oct. 16

SAN ANTONIO – James Matthew Bradley Jr., 61, was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Friday for his role in a human-smuggling operation that resulted in the deaths of 10 people.

Bradley pleaded guilty on Oct. 16 to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death.

Senior U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra presided over the sentencing for the Louisville, Kentucky truck driver.

Ezra also ordered that Bradley forfeit to the government his tractor-trailer rig, plus approximately $5,600 and a .38-caliber pistol recovered from inside the cab.

“Smuggling illegal aliens into this country disregards both our laws and their safety,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “The defendant's actions in this case led to the agonizing deaths of 10 people. Were it not for his actions, they might still be alive today."

RELATED: Human-smuggling suspect James Bradley will not face death penalty

RELATED: Man pleads guilty in connection with fatal human smuggling operation

On July 23, San Antonio police responded to a Walmart at 8538 Interstate 35 shortly after midnight after an officer found a tractor-trailer behind the store with several people standing and lying in the rear of the trailer and Bradley in the cab of the truck. Bradley was arrested and taken into federal custody.

The Department of Justice said officers discovered 39 people in the trailer at the scene, although court documents estimated the trailer contained between 70 and 180 to 200 people during its transport. They also described differing fees for being transported.

“Today’s sentencing of James Matthew Bradley, Jr., brings some closure to a truly horrific and unnecessary tragedy that involved exploiting human cargo for pure greed,” said Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, HSI San Antonio. 

"This was the equivalent of torture to have some 39 folks in a non-air conditioned, almost air tight trailer," said U.S. attorney John Bash.

Bradley’s co-defendant, 47-year-old Pedro Silva Segura, plead guilty on March 8 to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death.

Silva remains in federal custody pending sentencing scheduled for June 29. He faces up to life in federal prison 

Federal, state and local law enforcement officials, along with border enforcement departments, worked on the investigation.

"The U.S. Department of Justice is going to make sure that laws are enforced and that justice is served for victims, no matter who they are," said Bash.

Court exhibits

Four exhibits provided to the court by the government during Bradley's sentencing hearing in San Antonio were released to the public by the U.S. Attorney's Office. 

There were a total of two video files and two photographs. One video was taken by an officer's body camera and shows the immigrants Bradley was smuggling inside his trailer. Many are too ill to move and some were deceased.


Click on THIS LINK to access those exhibits. They are found under the "Recent Videos" and "Recent Images" headings.


About the Authors:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.

Ben Spicer is a digital journalist who works the early morning shift for KSAT.