San Antonio police found the trailer parked behind a Walmart with 39 people inside
DALLAS — A truck driver was sentenced to life in federal prison without parole for a smuggling scheme that ended in the deaths of 10 immigrants who hid in his pitch-dark cargo trailer in the summer heat.
James Matthew Bradley Jr., 61, of Clearwater, Fla., pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death.
He was sentenced Friday in a San Antonio federal court, according to the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Texas.
San Antonio police found eight people dead July 23 in a trailer parked behind a Walmart off Interstate 35. Two more people died after they were found, and dozens of others were hospitalized.
There were 39 people found inside the trailer, including four juveniles between the ages of 14 and 17. Some of the occupants told authorities that the trailer had contained as many as 200 people at one point, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Temperatures reached 101 degrees that day, and the trailer's refrigeration system didn't work. The people in the trailer didn't have water and all suffered from heat exposure or asphyxiation, police said.
Police had been called to the scene after a disoriented person from the truck asked a Walmart employee for water.
Bradley, who was found in the cab, initially denied knowing anyone was in the trailer, but he later admitted in court his role in the smuggling.
He was ordered to forfeit to the government his tractor-trailer, a pistol found inside the cab and $5,600 also in the cab.
U.S. attorney John F. Bash said in a written statement that the Department of Justice "will seek justice for all victims of crime, no matter their legal status."
A co-defendant, 47-year-old Pedro Silva Segura, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and is scheduled to be sentenced in June. Silva is a Mexican citizen who lives in Laredo.