The driver of a tractor-trailer containing dozens trapped alongside eight dead bodies has been taken into custody. The driver faces federal and state charges in what is being investigated as a human trafficking incident, reports My San Antonio. Per the AP, one more victim has died at the hospital after enduring sweltering conditions in the unair-conditioned container, bringing the death toll to nine. Though 38 victims were found in the trailer parked in a San Antonio Walmart lot, more than 100 people may have initially been inside the truck, says Thomas Homan of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement; he added that the remaining victims may have fled or been picked up. The rest of the survivors are being treated at nearby hospitals.
According to the Washington Post, the tractor-trailer advertised Iowa company Pyle Transportations on the side. Company owner Brian Pyle told the Post that the driver, who was out on his first trip, owns and operates the truck independently, but uses Pyle’s insurance and trailer to haul goods. "It’s a common thing in the trucking industry," Pyle says. “He had my name on the side, and I pay for his insurance. He makes his own decisions, buys his own fuel." Homan says some of the survivors have identified themselves as Mexican nationals. US Attorney Richard Durbin released a statement confirming that the driver was in custody and "will face charges," adding that Homeland Security and local responders will aid in identifying “those who were responsible for this tragedy." (Read more smuggling stories.)