Texas stash house operator pleads guilty in deadly smuggling run of 39 illegal immigrants, faces life in prison

The 47-year-old operator of an immigrant stash house in Laredo, Texas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the case of a deadly smuggling run last July that left 10 immigrants dead or dying in a semitrailer in San Antonio.

Pedro Silva Segura faces up to life in prison; sentencing has been set for June 29. He had a holding area for illegal immigrants waiting transportation, investigators said, and he admitted he gave the driver five of those immigrants from his stash house.

He entered his plea Thursday before a federal magistrate in San Antonio.

The truck's driver, James Matthew Bradley Jr., pleaded guilty in October to single counts of conspiracy and transporting immigrants resulting in death.

He's set to be sentenced March 26 and also faces up to life in prison.

At least 39 immigrants, most of them from Mexico, were packed inside the sweltering semitrailer. Police found the trailer, which had a broken cooling system, last July in a Walmart parking lot.

According to court documents, police responded to a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio just after midnight July 23. An officer saw people standing and lying in the back of the trailer, which had a broken cooling system, and Bradley sitting in the cab.

That’s when officers found 39 illegal immigrants — most of them from Mexico — including four unaccompanied teens. Eight of the immigrants already were dead; two would die later in area hospitals.

The immigrants estimated that there were up to 200 people in the trailer during the transport. They also said they paid differing fees to be smuggled.

Investigators said passengers had experienced difficulty breathing as temperatures, which had topped 100 degrees in San Antonio, climbed.

Fox News’ Ray Bogan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.