At least 50 dead bodies, covered in steak seasoning, were found in an abandoned tractor trailer outside of Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, Texas. Sixteen people, including four children, in dire condition from dehydration and heatstroke were still alive and rushed to hospitals. The people were migrants trapped in a human smuggling operation while traveling over the U.S.-Mexican border.
Steak Seasoning Was Used To Mask The Smell
Authorities believe that the steak seasoning was used by human smugglers to mask the smell of the dead bodies. They were tipped off to the truck after a worker near the intersection of Quintana Road and Cassin Drive heard cries for help.
Those who were still alive were attempting to jump out of the 18-wheeler due to the heat. They were trying to escape the scorching truck. Bodies of the deceased had subsequently fallen out and were found along the road.
The truck had a refrigeration system that wasn’t working.
San Antonio has had record heat this past month. June 2022 has been logged as the hottest June on record by the National Weather Service, with nine days reaching over 100 degrees so far.
The inside of a vehicle, however, can get much hotter than external air temperature. Action News 5 breaks down how heat can get trapped inside. Internal vehicle temperatures can reach a hellish 130 to 172 degrees Fahrenheit!
Homeland Security and the local police are allegedly conducting a criminal investigation into the human smuggling incident. Three people are in custody but have not definitively been linked to the crime.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a news conference that “This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy.”
“This Speaks To The Desperation of Migrants”
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus gave a statement about the horrific discovery:
“Horrified at this tragic loss of life near San Antonio. This speaks to the desperation of migrants who would put their lives in the hands of callous human smugglers who show no regard for human life,” he said. “We will be working with our federal, state and local partners to assist in every way possible with this investigation.”
Fire Chief Chris Hood detailed how those who survived could barely move and had no access to water in the truck.
“We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there,” he elaborated. “None of us come to work imagining that.”
International authorities have confirmed that some of the migrants, including two surviving children, are from Guatemala. A Honduran immigrant rights organization and the Honduran foreign ministry are investigating whether or not some of the immigrants may also hail from their country.
Human Smuggling Is A Serious Problem
Human smuggling operations are very dangerous, with migrants (including children) often traveling hundreds if not thousands of miles prior to even getting to a vehicle in order to cross into the U.S. Migrants are usually fleeing persecution or extreme danger but are continuously faced with more dangerous situations. This particular tragedy in San Antonio reflects a horrific loss of human life and has led to many strong opinions on the topic of immigration, whether that is to create reform or to close the borders entirely.