People Found Dead in Truck in 'Human Trafficking Crime'

While there are no official law enforcement statistics, almost 32,000 cases of human trafficking in the United States have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in the last decade.

COPS are probing a suspected human trafficking ring after eight immigrants, including two children, were found dead inside a truck in a Walmart auto park.

"With heat strokes or heat injuries, a lot of them are going to have some irreversible brain damage", Hood said.

"[Seventeen] patients were transported [to the hospital] priority 1 (life threatening injury/illness) and 13 were transported priority 2 (not immediately life threatening)", the San Antonio Fire Department said in a statement.

Hood told reporters, "it was a mass casualty for us".

The Walmart employee who discovered the tractor trailer said they called authorities after they heard a man inside of it pleading for water.

Surveillance footage showed that several vehicles had entered Walmart's parking lot before police were alerted to the case and picked up "lots of folks that were in that trailer that survived the trip", McManus said.

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The case is "a horrific tragedy", he said.

Police were also searching the area with helicopters after some people ran into the woods. All were victims of ruthless human smugglers indifferent to the wellbeing of their fragile cargo. Eight others are hospitalized in less serious condition, he said. Dozens more people in the trailer were dealing with heat-related illnesses. The driver of the tractor-trailer is in custody and faces state and federal charges.

The US Department of Homeland Security and immigration officials are assisting local law enforcement with the investigation. "This happens quite frequently under cover of night", McManus said. "Fortunately we came across this one, fortunately there are people who survived", he said. Two more victims died at the hospital, Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Associated Press. At least 29 fire units and two AirLIFE choppers responded to the scene to take care of the victims.

Breaking 248a - 8 people found dead inside a trailer parked outside Walmart in SW San Antonio.

McManus said, "this is not an isolated incident".

Based on initial interviews with survivors, Homan says there may have been more than 100 people in the truck.

Authorities did not say whether the rig was locked when they arrived, whether it was used to smuggle the occupants across the border into the USA, or where it might have been headed.

  • Sonia Alvarado