Authorities said Tuesday that 22 survivors of a semitrailer found outside a San Antonio Walmart packed with immigrants are no longer needed to testify and being turned over to immigration authorities. Ten people died in the alleged human smuggling operation discovered in July, and the driver of the truck faces a five-count indictment and the possibility of the death penalty. The US attorney's office in San Antonio says it is dismissing the 22 survivors as witnesses and canceling depositions it had scheduled for them in the case against James Matthew Bradley Jr., the AP reports.
A spokesman for the US attorney declined to comment on whether the survivors will face deportation. A spokeswoman for the Mexican consulate in San Antonio said the consulate was only informed that each person's case will be examined individually by an immigration court. At least 39 people had been packed inside the semitrailer, most of them Mexicans who had crossed the United States' southern border. The trailer's cooling system was broken, and witnesses told authorities that they fought to breathe and tried in vain to get the trailer to stop as it headed north. Eight people were found dead inside, and another two died after being hospitalized. (Read more human smuggling stories.)