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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

46 Dead Migrants Found Inside Tractor-Trailer in San Antonio, Texas

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat 

46 dead bodies and 16 surviving victims were found inside the back of a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas. The victims are currently being presumed to be migrant workers who were being transported but this is unconfirmed. 

The 16 surviving victims were suffering heat stroke and heat exhaustion. The truck was a refrigerated truck however there was no visible AC unit on the rig nor any visible sign of water being available for those inside. There are three people in custody although the police chief says it is too early in the investigation to say if the three are connected to the incident. 

This was a live post which was actively being written and updated based on preliminary reports which can sometimes be inaccurate during a breaking story. 

Quick Summary

During the afternoon of Monday, June 27, 2022, a man working inside a building in southwestern San Antonio, Texas, heard a cry from outside the building. He went out to investigate and saw a tractor-trailer parked on the side of the road. The back doors of the trailer were partially opened, he looked inside and he saw stacks of human bodies inside. 

At approximately 5:50 pm, an emergency line call was received. San Antonio Fire engine #52 responded to 9600 Quintana Road for a report of a dead person. There was a person outside and several more people that firefighters could see inside, later describing it as “stacks of bodies”. They began the process of triage, finding over 16 people who were still showing vital signs among a mass of deceased bodies. They were suffering heat stroke or heat exhaustion. 12 of those they found alive were adults and 4 were children. They were sent to various local hospitals throughout the city.

46 bodies that no longer showed vital signs were found. There are three people currently in custody who were possibly involved in the incident, it is unclear if they are considered persons of interest in the case.

An ambulance leaves the scene where police said dozens of people were found dead in a semitrailer in a remote area in southwestern San Antonio, Monday, June 27, 2022. ERIC GAY, AP.

Police block the scene where a tractor trailer with multiple dead bodies was discovered, Monday, June 27, 2022, in San Antonio. ERIC GAY, AP.

Onlookers stand near the scene where a tractor trailer with multiple dead bodies was discovered, Monday, June 27, 2022, in San Antonio. ERIC GAY, AP.

Police work the scene where dozens of people were found dead in a semitrailer in a remote area in southwestern San Antonio, Monday, June 27, 2022. ERIC GAY, AP.

The Press Conference

At approximately 9:00 pm on Monday, June 27, 2022, the San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and the Fire Chief Charles Hood gave a statement to reporters. Their statement was then relayed in Spanish for Spanish-speaking Texans.

Link to the video. The following is a direct transcript of what they said:

POLICE CHIEF MCMANUS: I want to emphasize that this is preliminary information and it could change. So the first call came in at about ten minutes to 6:00 this afternoon. A worker, who works in one of the buildings up here behind me, heard a cry for help, came out to investigate, found a trailer with the doors partially open, opened them up to take a look and found a number of deceased individuals inside. 

So, we have three people in custody. We don’t know if they are absolutely connected to this or not. This investigation has been turned over to HSI [Homeland Security Investigations]. It is now a federal investigation. Turned it over to them probably about two hours ago.

But right now we’ve got about three folks in custody. And again, this is all preliminary information, I want to turn it over to Chief Hood. 

FIRE CHIEF HOOD: Good evening. San Antonio Fire Department. Approximately 6:00 this evening, the San Antonio fire department responded to 9600 Quintana Road for a report of a dead person. Engine 52 arrived and found the trailer, as Chief McManus mentioned, with a body outside and several that they could visibly see inside once the doors were opened. 

At this time, we have processed approximately 46 bodies that have been triaged and tagged and declared deceased at this time. 

Fortunately, we were able to transport 16 people, 12 of those are adults and 4 pediatric [minors]. All of them were conscious at the time upon transportation. First patient was transported at 6:07 pm, with the last one being transported at 6:57 pm. So, for a mass casualty with triage involved, it went very smoothly and very quickly. 

The patients that we saw were hot to the touch. They were suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion. No signs of water in the vehicle. It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.

At this time we have released all our [fire] companies back in service. We used about 60 firefighters, 20 fire engines and 10 medic units, of which we transported to various local hospitals throughout the city. So it is our hope and prayer that the conditions of those that were transported will improve as we speak.

We are currently putting those 60 members [referring to his firefighters] through critical incident stress debriefing. 

Again, we are not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there. None of us come to work  imagining that so we’re working through the behavioral health of our folks right now.     

REPORTER: Could you  just confirm the number, the numbers that you just gave? 

CHIEF HOOD: Yes, sir. 16 transported. 12 of those adults, 4 pediatric and 46 that are deceased.    

REPORTER: Chief, what were the conditions of those that were transferred?  

CHIEF HOOD: All heat related injuries and no fatalities of peds [pediatrics] that we know of. 

Following the Spanish-version of their statements, both Chief McManus and Chief Hood took questions from reporters. 

REPORTER: Mayor or police chief, can you talk about whether there has ever been  a case of this large number of dead in our county - in our city? 

CHIEF MCMANUS: No, there has not. This is the largest that's been in this city as far as I can recall. 

REPORTER: Can you clarify with these three people in custody, were they drivers? Are they among the group?  

CHIEF MCMANUS: Yeah, I’m not going to get into that because it's now a federal investigation. That’s in HSI’s [Homeland Security Investigations] ballpark right now. 

REPORTER: Is SAPD [San Antonio Police Department] assisting the feds in looking for anyone at this point? 

CHIEF MCMANUS: We offered any kind of assistance that they needed. They are handling it by themselves right now.

REPORTER: Could you tell us about the condition of the people that have been sent to the hospital? What state are they in, how bad it was? 

CHIEF HOOD: All of them that left in our ambulances - we’re very hopeful that they’re going to survive.

In a triage situation like this- we made sure that everyone that we came across - all those 46- we put them on a 12-lead monitor to make sure there were no signs of life, no electric activity whatsoever that we could find in them. 

But the ones that we did transport. We do hope that they’re all going to survive. They were again suffering from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, the same things that any of us would get if we’re out in the elements for a long period of time without any water. But again, we’re hopeful that they’re all going to survive. 

A couple of peds [pediatrics / minors] that we sent off last, again, they were conscious and alert but just, again, very weak. None of these people were able to extricate themselves out of the truck. So they were still in there, awaiting help, when we arrived.   None of these people were able to extricate themselves out of the truck. So they were still in there, awaiting help, when we arrived.     

REPORTER: Were there any air holes in the truck or anything like that?

CHIEF HOOD: None that I’ve noticed. And again, interestingly enough, we had the hot truck a couple of years ago and you could see things like that. You really didn’t notice anything with this truck.  

REPORTER: Chief, you said they [the minors] weren’t able to extricate themselves out. What do you mean? 

CHIEF HOOD: Just meaning being too weak to actually get out and help themselves.

REPORTER: So who was [unclear, possibly asking about the body outside the trailer]? Do we know how they got out? 

CHIEF HOOD: Some may have got out but again, we don’t know all of that. But the majority of the people that we transported - we helped them out [of the back of the truck] and made sure they were transported to appropriate facilities.   

REPORTER: Do you have any idea how long they had been in there based on what… their- 

CHIEF HOOD: No, I don’t have any idea, at this time. 

REPORTER: What are the ages of the pediatric victims [minors]?

CHIEF HOOD: I don’t know. We’re checking on that. And again, I don’t want to be too specific on that but they are teenagers, young adults, that we found. 

REPORTER: Has anyone checked with the Mexican [consulate or counselor]or something like that? 

CHIEF HOOD: Uh, not my knowledge but I believe that is being attempted right now. 

REPORTER: Chief, do you know if any of these folks are migrants? 

CHIEF HOOD: I have no idea, Joey [referring to a San Antonio reporter he recognizes who asked the question]. 

REPORTER: Are these mostly men? Are they women? Is it a mix of-

CHIEF HOOD: It's going to be a mix, absolutely a mix. And after going up and looking at the scene, there’s a mix of males and females that are deceased. 

REPORTER: Do you know, are any of the dead children? 

CHIEF HOOD: No, not that we have found. We have not found any dead pediatrics at this time. 

[A reporter begins a question in English, struggles to find the right words, switches to Spanish]  

CHIEF MCMANUS: Tony [referring to the name of the reporter, who he recognizes], what’s your question? 


REPORTER TONY: I can see somebody with a Mexican government [uniform] over here and why is - do we know if they’re [the victims] are Mexican [nationals] and that's why he’s here? 

CHIEF MCMANUS: I don’t know that, Tony. 

DIFFERENT REPORTER: Do they [the victims] have any IDs?

CHIEF MCMANUS: That I don’t know either. 

REPORTER: Chief, are you able to tell us any of their national origins? 

CHIEF MCMANUS: No, not at this point. 

REPORTER: Do you know what language they communicated in?


REPORTER: When this truck was found, it was on the side of the road. The three suspects who are in custody were still there so did you think that it just…

CHIEF MCMANUS: Actually they [the three in custody] weren’t [found on the side of the road] so - but beyond that I’m gonna leave it vague. Again, this is an HSI federal investigation right now and beyond the general details of what happened and who was injured, how many were injured, we’re not going to go into further than that. 

REPORTER: And is HSI already on the ground and-

CHIEF MCMANUS: HSI was here probably 3.5 hours ago. And we [San Antonio police] spoke and within about 45 minutes after that, they took over the investigation. 

REPORTER: Chief, are you confident that everyone who was in the truck has been accounted for? 

CHIEF MCMANUS: No, I’m not. We had our canines out here going through the woods and we may have to do that again tomorrow, in the light of day. 

REPORTER: Chief, is there any indication as to how many people were at one point in that truck? 


REPORTER: I have a question for the Mayor. A couple of years ago, in the city center had an office helping migrants, just giving water. We noticed that there are a lot of them now stopping in Travis Park. Is there any idea of doing the same thing or not really? 

MAYOR RON NIRENBERG: Yeah, we have been working to assist migrants who are here seeking asylum, as we have throughout the year, every year. We know there has been increasing volumes [of aid] over the last six months, 12 months, related to the policies but our aim is to provide humanitarian assistance. This is a far different situation than what we see. 

REPORTER: What can the city do for those who are in the hospital? 

MAYOR RON NIRENBERG: Well, they’re going to provide medical aid and try to revive the folks and make sure that they get healthy. Beyond that, this again is a federal investigation and so related to that part of it, we’re going to have to wait for the federal teams to brief us. 

REPORTER: Mayor, what is your reaction: this might be one of the deadliest smuggling investigations and it's happening right here, in our community?  

MAYOR RON NIRENBERG: It’s tragic. You know there are  -that we know of- 46 individuals who are no longer with us, who had families, who were likely trying to find a better life and we have 16 folks who are fighting for their lives right now in a hospital.  Our focus right now is to try to bring aid to them as best we can but this is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy. 

Cartel Aspects

Interstate 35 (I-35) is the highway located closest to where the trailer was found. The trailer’s proximity to I-35 makes it likely that, if the tractor-trailer crossed into the US from Mexico prior to being discovered, it was likely through one of the following: 

One of the three Nuevo Laredo international bridges 

Alleged to be controlled by the Northeast cartel (Cártel del Noreste, CDN)

The Colombia - Laredo international bridge 

Alleged to be controlled by CDN

One of the two Piedras Negras - Eagle Pass international bridges 

It is less clear if it is CDN controlled then the two previous entry locations, but back in February 2021 LaOpinion wrote an article discussing the arrest of a leader for a CDN group operating in Piedras Negras

Sometimes a major cartel organization is directly involved in organizing human smuggling operations. Sometimes a region’s human smuggling market is dominated by small, independent groups who simply pay a larger cartel a fee for permission to operate within their territory. 

Whether small, independent groups or major, national-level cartels are the ones who control the human smuggling varies according to the specific region involved and changes often.

Previous Incidents

On February 8, 2021, a similar incident occurred in this same city of San Antonio, Texas. The emergency phone line received multiple calls reporting 80 migrant were trapped inside a tractor trailer and struggling to breath, according to The Guardian

In the 911 call recording, which was released by NBC News, a man can be heard telling operators in Spanish that he and about 80 other people are trapped in a white tank truck. In the background, other people can be heard screaming for help, saying that they’re out of air.

"We can't see anything. We're inside a tank truck. God, we have no oxygen," the caller tells the 911 dispatcher in Spanish. Another man can also be heard in the background saying, "Help! Blessed God!" as he struggles to breathe. Unfortunately, the tractor trailer where the calls originated from could not be located so the number of casualties, if any, is undetermined. 

This 2021 incident is likely why there was a question about air holes during the 2022 press conference and is likely the event that Fire Chief Hood was referring to. 

Going further back, in 2017, 10 migrants from Mexico died after being trapped in a tractor-trailer which was left parked outside a Walmart in San Antonio.

Photos from the 2017 incident. 

Even earlier than that, in 2003, 19 bodies were found in a milk truck abandoned at a truck stop in Victoria, 120 miles south-east of San Antonio. According to the New York Times, the first to die was a five-year-old boy who died in his father’s arms. The refrigeration system for the trailer had been turned off.

The 2003 incident was considered to be one of the deadliest migrant-smuggling incidents in the US at the time. This recent 2022 incident will likely now be considered the deadliest migrant smuggling incident in the US. 

Details Beyond the Press Conference 

News18 alleges that the worker who heard calls for help was located near the intersection of Cassin Drive and Quintana Road at the time. Hourly weather reports of the temperature in San Antonio for Monday, June 27, 2022, (seen below) say that temperatures reached about 98 °F and stayed at that temperature for many hours.

Hourly weather reports for Nuevo Laredo on that same day (seen above) showed peak temperature of 101 °F, with the temperature staying at 101 °F for multiple hours.

Both News18 and the Texas Tribune are currently reporting that many of the people found inside the vehicle appeared to have been sprinkled with steak seasoning by the human-smuggler, “in perhaps an attempt to cover up the smell of people as the smugglers were transporting them.”

According to the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, so far the nationalities of 31 individuals have been identified: 22 from Mexico, 7 from Guatemala, and 2 from Honduras.

According to a source we consulted, it is quite likely that the immigrants were loaded into the trailer in the Monterrey metropolitan area, although Saltillo, Monclova, and Nuevo Laredo are alternative possibilities. 

According to them, the most likely scenario is that the vehicle crossed through one of the Nuevo Laredo - Laredo bridges, gambling on the trailer not being greenlighted for revision and x-ray review due to the sheer number of traffic across this border point makes it impossible for all vehicles to be inspected. 

Alternatively, the immigrant smugglers may have relied on corruption of United States border officials to ensure that the vehicle was not subject to revision. If this was the case then Piedras Negras or Colombia would be the more likely crossing point rather than Nuevo Laredo itself.

Regardless, each of these locations are controlled by the CDN and in all likelihood the immigrant smugglers paid a fee to them for each individual to ensure that they would be allowed by the cartel to use their territory.

The current going rate is allegedly $7,000 USD on average that each person pays for their passage, but it can vary between $5000 to $10,000 USD per person.

Sources: Press Conference Video, CNBC, USA Today, NPR, BBC

Previous Incident Sources: The Guardian, NBC News, New York Times



  1. As always, thank you very much Hearst for your excellent reporting and due diligence. You’re the main reason why I come to this website and will continue to as long as you keep doing your incredible and courageous journalism.

    1. Thank you. Comments like these mean a lot to me.

    2. HEARST I love the smile you do every day. Finding good clean ladies nowadays is hard to find .
      Happy Birthday

      Regards El Chivo

  2. Tragic. People looking for a better way of life for them and their family since the countries they're immigrating from cannot because of the lack of employment, security, etcetera.
    To all you critics that write negative shit about the USA, renounce your US citizenship and take your ass to the country of your dreams MF.
    You won't be missed commie sympathizers!

    1. 5:37 Right?! These actors pass and moan but they have no idea how good they have it in comparison to mexico.

  3. People will risk their lives to find better ways of living. RIP to all who lost their lives and their families!

  4. Hope they don't try to blame everything on the driver 🤦

    1. He's gonna give everyone up in that network to save his hide. Sinaloa style.

    2. Sinaloa style dice el Sol. Lol. No mames we. Most of the capos give someone else to save their own skin. I can give you a few examples if you want. From Zetas to Arellanos to CJNG to Familia Michoachango to Juarez to CDG. And other. Ask me and I’ll give you their names.

    3. @12:19 pues pa luego es tarde mano. De una vez quema a todos los ratas pone dedos

    4. Ah, thats cute someone called me a tweeker. Now try to guess why your words didn't come through bright bulb. Te dolio el chiquito preciosa 🤣. And yeah I know all these clown ass cartels snitch on each other. But Sinaloa is world famous for their constant lies and never ending snitch ways. They take the cake.

    5. “Sinaloa is world famous for their constant lies and never ending snitch ways”

      👍 That 110% facts and truth!

      All these scum bags snitch, but Sinaloa the worst of all!

  5. Texas biggest market for human trafficking in USA where you can buy a child as easily as buying Texas BBQ combo

    1. Human smuggling is not human trafficking

    2. It's the same thing.

    3. Joe Biden is that you ?

    4. 10:11 No it’s not… Smuggling means it’s not against their will. Human trafficking means it is against their will. Even if someone isn’t being moved around physically and they’re just held captive or prisoner in a stationary place that’s human trafficking. 99% of the time when you hear the phrase “human trafficking” it refers to slavery or captivity.

  6. These people end up working on farms so keep the cost of food down. The same farmers who voted for the party that tried to deport all immigrants, the hypocrisy SMH. I can’t imagine the conditions in the back of that trailer.

  7. Great post H! btw, 6 policias dead in Anahuac, NL. CDN?

    1. Anahuac is right next to Nuevo Laredo so I would hazard a guess that CDN is involved but I'd have to look more into the story for more details to really give you a good answer.

    2. Do you guys want me to cover that Anahuac story tomorrow or focus on something more recent?

    3. 4:18 "tomorrow" mañana,
      are you mexican?
      We are world famous for the invention and practice, I am a specialist...also tell the boss:
      "No cervezas, No trabaja."

    4. Hearst work on whatever you like. Thank you

    5. 4:18 We will always be grateful.

  8. Hearst, thank you for taking time to let the world know what's going on in Mexico. I live in Cleveland, Ohio so people out here think that all of this crime is a world away and it doesn't affect them but it's really at our doorstep. Thanks for keeping us informed. Much love.

  9. It seems they crossed near Nuevo Laredo. Any chance CDN may be involved?

    1. They died while in route to USA.

    2. I think it's likely CDN is involved. It's more a question of modality, like are CDN in any way directly involved or is this an entirely separate operation that just pays de piso to CDN in order to operate in the area?

  10. I would have at unlatched the trailer if I was gonna bail

    1. Billie Da Jeanner
      Obradors speechwriter from the Circus is busy, writing a speech to USA, I bet you it will be a clown comment.

    2. @1:17
      That's funny, but be careful the nutthugger lawyer is lurking amongst us. Ready for the kill.Rrrrrrrrrrr

  11. Biden's border....f*cking pathetic.

    1. 3:08 I'd blame the buutifool expensive billion dollar a mile wall, no ladder can help there.
      What is rare and strange, No Videos of the truck crossing or driving around yet, or who owns it, but the tractor loss is more expensive than the money to be gotten from these poor migrants.

    2. I don’t understand why people don’t put the blame where it belongs. The ones responsible here are the human traffickers.

    3. Look 7:35 AMLO rules, I don't care what you say about the border, you dig Poncho AMLO is number one in the world.


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