US officials suspect that the bodies of migrants who were found in a truck in Texas on Monday were sprinkled with a meat seasoning to cover the odor of putrefaction. In addition to the spices found on the victims, the police also identified that the license plate of the vehicle had been cloned, as reported by local newspapers The Texas Tribune and San Antonio Express-News.
At least 51 people died after being transported in the vehicle in Texas. Twenty bodies have yet to be identified, but victims have already been confirmed from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. The truck was found late Monday afternoon (27) in the city of San Antonio, near a railway line.
The vehicle was painted to look like part of a local haulage company’s fleet and also had a forged copy of the Department of Transportation registration number attached to the company.
“Our reefer [contêiner refrigerado] it’s in the yard,” said Felipe Betancourt Jr., who owns Betancourt Trucking with his father. “The one in San Antonio isn’t ours.”
Despite being made to look like a refrigerated truck, “there wasn’t an air conditioning unit visible,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood reported this week.
The truck is believed to have suffered a mechanical failure when it was abandoned and the driver tried to flee the scene on foot, The New York Times reported. Identified as Homero Zamorano, 45, he was allegedly “doped on methamphetamine” when he was arrested and had to be taken to a hospital. Until last night, he was still in the hospital unit. Two other men were also arrested.
After the grim discovery of the bodies inside the truck on Monday night, investigators were able to trace the vehicle’s registration to a San Antonio address they put under surveillance, officials said.
In addition to the bodies found inside the truck, other victims were also located near the abandoned truck, which suggests that some people tried to flee the vehicle when it was still moving.
The truck was found on a road near I-35, a route that crosses the United States from north to south, from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. The city is a main route for people smugglers in the region.
Authorities suspect the migrants got into the truck in the city of Laredo, Texas, which is on the border with Mexico, and traveled 240 kilometers in temperatures that reached 39ºC.