Local truck driver says human smuggling suspect had to know what he was hauling

Called condition of 18-wheeler trailer a 'death trap'

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - Steve is a local trucker with over 30 years of experience and he said the conditions almost over 100 people were subject to in a horrific human smuggling case were conditions of "a death trap." 

“You wouldn’t put produce in there, you wouldn’t put anything of value you needed to haul in that unit, let alone people," Steve said while pointing to an 18-wheeler identical to the one involved in the case.

Steve said the actions of 60-year-old James Bradley, a suspect in a fatal human smuggling case, were simply inexcusable.

RELATED: Human smuggling suspect James Bradley could face death penalty, life in prison 

When Steve used a surface temperature reader in the truck, temperatures read as high as 121 degrees.

"They’re meant to keep the cold in when the units are off and it’s insulated to keep the hot in," Steve said.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court Monday gave harrowing detail to the conditions inside the trailer.
Documents said hours into the trip, some people had trouble breathing and others passed out.

One victim estimated there were 180 to 200 people in the trailer when he got in.

RELATED: Zetas Cartel linked to fatal mass human smuggling case in San Antonio 

The complaint says the people in the truck took turns breathing through a hole in the trailer. Steve said a hole intended for ventilation to rid a truck of certain produce smells was the only hole the people in the truck were able to breathe out of.

That ventilation system can only be opened from outside the truck.

Court documents say Bradley knew the refrigeration system didn’t work; he knew that the four vent holes were probably clogged, but he says he didn’t know what was in the truck.

RELATED: Cartel control over smuggling has made it far more dangerous 

“No as a driver you know what you’re hauling," Steve said, refuting Bradley's story. "You make sure the load that you’re hauling — the equipment is safe. Absolutely no excuse to this."


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