Christian Martinez, 28, who was arrested Tuesday in Palestine, Texas, has been charged with one count of conspiring to transport undocumented migrants causing death, the DOJ said.
If convicted, Zamorano and Martinez face life in prison or the death penalty. CNN was unable to determine if Martinez has an attorney.
Zamorano, with his hands and feet tied, made his first appearance before a federal judge in San Antonio on Thursday. At least four U.S. marshals were in the courtroom when Zamorano heard the charges against him. Zamorano said he was not impaired due to mental health issues, medication or alcohol, after being questioned by the judge.
Asked by CNN, Zamorano’s attorney said he didn’t want to comment.
State prosecutors have filed a motion asking that Zamorano be held without bond. His detention hearing is set for July 6 at 11:00 a.m. CT in federal court in San Antonio.
When police arrived at the scene on Monday, they discovered several people inside the tractor-trailer, some on the ground and in nearby brush, “many of them dead and some of them beaten up. incapacity,” according to the DOJ statement.
“SAPD officers were taken to the location of an individual, later identified as Zamorano, who was observed hiding in the brush after attempting to flee. Zamorano was detained by SAPD officers. SAPD,” the statement read.
The Laredo Sector Border Patrol also provided Homeland Security Investigations officers with surveillance footage showing the tractor-trailer passing through an immigration checkpoint, the statement said. The driver could be seen wearing a black striped shirt and hat.
“HSI officers confirmed that Zamorano matched the individual in the surveillance footage and was wearing the same clothing,” the statement said.
An investigation revealed that communications took place between Zamorano and Martinez regarding the smuggling event, according to the statement.
D’Luna-Mendez’s attorney said he does not comment on ongoing cases. CNN contacted D’Luna-Bilbao’s attorney and did not hear back.
No water or AC power inside trailer, fire chief said
The refrigerated tractor-trailer had no visible air conditioning unit and there was no sign of water inside, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told reporters Monday. It’s unclear how long the people inside the truck had been dead, he said.
High temperatures Monday in the San Antonio area ranged from 90 to 100, according to the National Weather Service.
“None of these people were able to extricate themselves from the truck,” Hood said. “So they were still there, waiting for help, when we arrived…which just means they were too weak – weakened state – to actually come out and help themselves.”
Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge of San Antonio Homeland Security Investigations, described it as “the worst human trafficking event in the United States.”
“In the past, smuggling organizations were mom and pop. Now they are organized and linked to cartels. So you have a criminal organization that doesn’t care about the safety of migrants. They are treated like commodities rather than like people,” he added. Larrabee told CNN in a phone interview.
Business owners in the area where the trailer was found told CNN they were in shock.
“They were human beings, it was terrible,” said Israel Martinez, 68, co-owner of USA Auto Parts. “We (migrants) come to this country for a better life and yesterday we reminded many of us that unfortunately some of us make it but many others don’t.”