Man charged in deadly tractor-trailer incident in San Antonio pleads not guilty

Christian Martinez was indicted on 4 federal charges in connection with the deaths of 52 people on Quintana Road in June

Christian Martinez is charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death in connection with the migrant tragedy in San Antonio on June 27, 2022 that left more than 50 migrants dead. (Anderson County)

SAN ANTONIO – One of the men facing federal charges in connection with the tractor-tractor incident on the city’s Southwest Side in June that resulted in the deaths of 53 people pleaded not guilty Thursday, the U.S. Magistrate’s Office said.

Christian Martinez entered his not guilty plea in federal court. No other information was available about the court appearance at this time.

According to a federal indictment, Martinez, 28, and Homero Zamorano Jr., 46, are charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death; one count of transportation of illegal aliens resulting in death; one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy; and one count of transportation of illegal aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy.

If the men are found guilty of the charge of conspiracy to transport and transport resulting in death, they would face a maximum penalty of life in prison or the death penalty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas said.

According to federal officials, the two men discussed the smuggling incident from a cellphone belonging to Zamorano, who is also believed to have driven the trailer on June 27 from Laredo to Quintana Road in San Antonio.

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David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.