Man Pleads Guilty in Botched Smuggling Effort That Killed 53

( — One of the men charged in connection with the deadly smuggling incident in 2022, in which over 50 migrants died after being left in the back of a trailer near San Antonio, Texas, has pleaded guilty, UPI reported.

According to the Justice Department, 31-year-old Riley Covarrubias-Ponce pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death, transportation of illegal aliens resulting in death, conspiracy to transport resulting in serious bodily injury, and transportation resulting in serious bodily injury.

Covarrubias-Ponce faces a possible life sentence.

In June 2022, the bodies of 48 migrants were discovered in the back of a non-air-conditioned tractor-trailer that had been abandoned along the side of a road near San Antonio. Another sixteen migrants were hospitalized with heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and five later died.

The 53 dead illegal immigrants, including six children, were from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Covarrubias-Pince, a Mexican national, was charged a year after the incident on June 27, 2023.

Palestine, Texas resident Christian Martinez, 29, pleaded guilty to the same four charges in September.

Four other suspects arrested in the incident, including the driver of the tractor-trailer, 47-year-old Homero Zamorano, are awaiting trial.

According to prosecutors with the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, Covarrubias-Ponce was one of the individuals who organized the acquisition of an empty tractor-trailer that was later handed off to Zamorano.

Zamorano then drove the truck to a location in Loredo, Texas along the border where the illegals were placed into the trailer. He then made the 3-hour trek to San Antonio.

In his plea agreement, Covarrubias-Ponce admitted that he accompanied the tractor-trailer on the journey before it was abandoned with its human cargo inside.

After the grisly discovery was made, President Biden blasted the human traffickers in a statement, saying that they had “no regard for the lives they endanger and exploit to make a profit.”

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