Mexican Consulate to help ID victims in human smuggling case

9 found dead in big rig trailer, 30+ rescued

By Josh Skurnik - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - More than 30 people were rescued from a sweltering trailer attached to an 18-wheeler parked in a southwest San Antonio Walmart.

Nine others were found dead in the trailer. All were victims of human smuggling.

THE WHOLE STORY:

As staff of the Mexican Consulate in San Antonio interviews the survivors in hospitals Sunday night, the information they are asking for are simple: name, date of birth and who should they contact back home.

For some, they've had to rely on the Mexican identification cards they carried.

"Besides that we have not asked details of any other thing, because as I said, they are in the hospital, many of them are in grave condition," said Consul General of Mexico in San Antonio Reyna Torres Mendivil.

The 30 or so hospitalized people were severely dehydrated and suffering from heat exhaustion, the majority near death. The nine dead were all adult men. The cause is believed to be heat exposure or asphyxiation.

Police found them inside a un-air conditioned tractor-trailer just after midnight Sunday morning in a Walmart parking lot.

Most are in their 20s and 30s. Two of them are just 15 years old.

"Right now our first priority, is to make sure that their health situation is being addressed, and are receiving the proper care," Mendivil said.

Mendivil said they don't have an accurate figure yet, but some of the dead -- and at least one of the minors -- are Mexican nationals.

Standing with his wife and two daughters in front of San Fernando Cathedral, Jose Luis Gonzalez attended the same vigil for the victims as Mendivil Sunday.

A Mexican immigrant who moved to the US when he was 9, it breaks his heart.

"People try to come down here to live the American dream," said Gonzalez.

Also speaking at the emotionally charged vigil was Rep. Joaquin Castro.

"Our humanity in moments like this matters most, more than politics, more than whether you are a Democrat or Republican," said Castro.

Authorities in Mexico are contacting families, but some have relatives in the U.S.

The consulate will provide the nationals with lawyers and financial assistance. They will also work to make sure the driver of the truck is held responsible.

"We want to make sure those that created this tragedy are put before the law," Mendivil said.

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