McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Eleven of the 53 migrants who died after being trapped inside a hot 18-wheeler truck in June in San Antonio had “serious criminal records in the U.S.,” Congressman Henry Cuellar told Border Report on Wednesday.
In a Zoom interview Wednesday from Washington, D.C., Cuellar said the new information about those individuals was based on what he said were frequent conversations with those in the know.
“Eleven people had serious criminal records in the U.S. — not in their countries — in the United States. So that means they’d been here before and they had broken the law,” Cuellar told Border Report.
He said they had felony charges, including child abuse and homicide.
“They were not DWIs or parking tickets. These were serious felony records in the U.S., and so they had been here before and 20% had serious felony records in the US,” he said.
Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, is vice-chairman of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Committee, which has been meeting this summer over budget needs for DHS for Fiscal Year 2023.
The Department of Homeland Security is heading the investigation into the deaths after the migrants were discovered in a stifling trailer on June 27 in the deadliest human smuggling tragedy ever in the U.S.
Three people have been arrested in connection with the deaths. The victims included migrants from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Most were men; five were minors.
The trailer had passed through the Border Patrol checkpoint about 29 miles outside of Laredo on Interstate 35, which is a common route for smugglers to take migrants to San Antonio.
Cuellar said that between Oct. 1, 2021, and July 6, Border Patrol agents stopped 195 tractor-trailers that were carrying unauthorized migrants at that checkpoint — commonly called “Charley Checkpoint 29.” He said border agents “rescued” between 7,800 and 8,000 migrants from those trucks, “and that’s not counting other vehicles that they have caught,” he said.
“That’s almost one a day they’re trying to get in through the Laredo checkpoint,” Cuellar said.
More than 2 million migrants have been encountered on the Southwest border so far this fiscal year, which is on track to break records.
Cuellar’s brother is the sheriff of Webb County, which includes their hometown of Laredo. Cuellar’s border district stretches from the outskirts of McAllen past Laredo and up to San Antonio.
Border Report is trying to get more information on the names, ages and exact felony charges of the deceased migrants. This story will be updated if the information is received.