Truck Driver Pleads Guilty In Fatal Human Smuggling Caseby Jana Ritter - Published: 10/16/2017
The truck driver charged in the fatal human smuggling case that made headlines last July appeared in court in Texas on Monday. The botched smuggling operation resulted in the deaths of 10 people and brought new attention to the dangers of human trafficking.
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On Monday, James Matthew Bradley pleaded guilty to two federal charges; one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death. By pleading guilty, Bradley is essentially admitting “he conspired to transport and did transport undocumented aliens in the United States for financial gain; to further their illegal entry into this country; with reckless disregard that they entered this country illegally; and, which resulted in the death of ten undocumented aliens."
According to the criminal complaint, Bradley initially told investigators he was unaware that he was transporting human cargo and was completely caught by surprise when he stopped at a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio on July 23 and opened his trailer doors. He claimed that he was knocked down by a group of "Spanish" people that came pouring out of the rig.
However, prosecutors told the court Bradley knew exactly what he was doing and acted with careless indifference to human life. They referred to witness statements from those aboard the truck who told authorities there were as many as 200 people packed in the sweltering hot trailer at one point. With no water or ventilation, people literally dropped dead in the trailer's insufferable conditions. Investigators also found approximately $5,600 and a .38 caliber pistol in the cab of the tractor-trailer.
“Today’s admission of guilt by Mr. Bradley helps to close the door on one of the conspirators responsible for causing the tragic loss of life and wreaking havoc on those who survived this horrific incident. This case is a glaring reminder that alien smugglers are driven by greed and have little regard for the health and well-being of their human cargo, which can prove to be a deadly combination," said Shane Folden of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.
Bradley will remain in custody until his sentencing hearing on January 22, 2018. He faces up to life in federal prison. His co-defendant, Pedro Silva Segura, also faces charges including one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain resulting in death.