Four people have been killed after a vehicle crashed in Texas, southern United States, while trying to evade an immigration checkpoint, according to officials.
Two Mexican men, one Guatemalan national and another unidentified person died in Thursday’s crash, the Mexican consulate in the Texan border city of Laredo said in a statement.
The driver, a US citizen, was hospitalised along with two people thought to be from Guatemala, according to information from the consulate, Mexico’s interior ministry and the National Institute of Migration (INM). The truck had been travelling from Laredo and was bound for San Antonio when it crashed.
The incident on Thursday in the town of Encinal came days after 53 people died after being trapped in the back of an abandoned truck near the Texas city of San Antonio, in the deadliest human smuggling incident in US history.
The truck trailer carrying the people found dead on Monday had also passed through the same checkpoint in Encinal, but was not detected.
Authorities described finding a gruesome scene, with bodies stacked inside of the trailer, hot to the touch. Others were found dead in the nearby brush.
Temperatures in the area were as high as 39.4 degrees Celsius (102.92 Fahrenheit) on the day of the discovery, and no water supplies were discovered inside the trailer, which did not have a working air conditioning unit.
The suspected driver, Homero Zamorano Jr, a native of Texas, was later arrested and charged with human trafficking along with another man. Two others believed to be involved in the incident were charged with firearms possessions and living in the US without documents.
Among the dead were 27 Mexican nationals, 14 Hondurans, eight Guatemalans and two Salvadorans, Mexican and Guatemalan officials said. Others, including minors, remained hospitalised.
Guatemala’s foreign ministry has said the dead included 13 and 14-year-old cousins Pascual Melvin Guachiac, 13, and Juan Wilmer Tulul. Their mother told local media they had left their home two weeks ago in search of a life outside of poverty.
Officials believe the victims had boarded the truck on the US side of the border with Mexico, possibly staying in a “stash house” after crossing the border.
The stories of those who died have emerged in recent days.
Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Karen Caballero said her two sons Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero, 23, and Fernando Jose Redondo Caballero, 18, and Alejandro’s partner, Margie Tamara Paz Grajeda, 24, were among the dead.
Alejandro Miguel and Margie had hoped to continue their studies in the US, so the trio left their home in Las Vegas, Honduras, travelled to Guatemala, and were smuggled into Mexico.
“We all planned it as a family so they could have a different life, so they could achieve goals, dreams,” Caballero told the news agency.
The mother last spoke to her sons on Saturday morning. They told her they had crossed the Rio Grande at Roma, Texas and were headed to Laredo and on Monday expected to head north to Houston.
She recounted assuring her oldest son that they would complete the journey safely, telling him: “You are not the first nor will you be the last human being to travel to the United States.”
“My children leave a void in my heart,” she said.