Arrest made in fatal migrant smuggling incident on train in Uvalde County
Written by ABC Audio ALL RIGHTS RESERVED on March 29, 2023
(EAGLE PASS, Texas) — One man has been arrested in connection with the smuggling incident that led to 17 migrants becoming trapped on a train on Friday in Uvalde County, Texas.
Denniso Carranza Gonzales, a Honduran national, was allegedly a foot guide for a group of 12 Honduran migrants that day, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas and obtained by ABC News.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), 15 men and two women were discovered on the Union Pacific train.
Gonzales stated that he had been guiding groups of undocumented immigrants from Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico into Eagle Pass, Texas, for three months “as a way to pay for his own smuggling costs,” according to the criminal complaint. He said the smugglers told him he would be “taken care of” for continuing to smuggle groups, the complaint says.
The groups would be guided onto train cars on the way to San Antonio, he said, according to the complaint.
The initial 911 call came in at 3:50 p.m. local time on Friday from an “unknown third-party caller” advising there were numerous immigrants “suffocating” inside of a Union Pacific train, Uvalde police said in a statement posted on Facebook.
U.S. Border Patrol was able to stop the train two to three miles outside of Knippa, Texas.
“We are heartbroken to learn of yet another tragic incident of migrants taking the dangerous journey,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement on Saturday.
Court records allege that Gonzales says he brought the group to a designated train where another man arrived and told him they would be placed in a Conex box on a rail car. The doors were closed once Gonzales and the group boarded the train.
According to the complaint, he told investigators that the group became worried once the train started moving.
He added he “told the people to remain calm and breathe deep” and that the doors would be opened once the train arrived in San Antonio, the complaint says.
Gonzales said he called the man who placed them in the Conex box when “the box became extremely hot and the air was getting harder to breathe,” the complaint alleges. When the man did not answer, Gonzales told the group to start calling 911, he told investigators.
He says he did not know a person had died in the incident, according to the complaint.
HSI is still investigating the second fatal train incident that happened over the weekend in Eagle Pass, Texas.
The Eagle Pass incident occurred about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at a Union Pacific rail yard, when someone from inside a boxcar parked at the yard called 911, a Union Pacific spokesperson said.
Law enforcement found 12 migrants trapped inside a stifling boxcar, including one who was pronounced dead at the scene and three others in need of hospitalization, officials said.
Homeland Security has launched a human smuggling investigation into the incident. No arrests have been announced.
It’s unclear if the Uvalde County and the Eagle pass incidents are connected.
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