Texas tractor-trailer migrant deaths: Two Mexican nationals living in US illegally hit with weapons charges

Mexican nationals nabbed leaving Texas home matching registration for tractor trailer with 53 dead migrants

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Two Mexican nationals living in the U.S. illegally have been charged with firearm offenses after dozens of migrants were found dead in an abandoned semi-truck in Texas earlier this week. 

Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, who both allegedly overstayed B-2 visas, have been charged through separate criminal complaints as illegal immigrants in possession of firearms, according to court documents filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas. 

Federal prosecutors have asked that both men be held without bond, The Hill reported. They could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the current charges. 

A third man, believed to be the big rig's driver, was also reportedly arrested and charged with human smuggling.

TEXAS TRUCKING COMPANY SAYS TRACTOR-TRAILER WITH 51 DEAD MIGRANTS WAS ‘CLONED’ BY TRAFFICKERS: REPORT 

In what is believed to be the nation’s deadliest smuggling episode on the U.S.-Mexico border, at least 53 migrants have died after dozens of bodies were found in an abandoned tractor-trailer in sweltering heat on the outskirts of San Antonio Monday. Several survivors were in critical condition as of Tuesday with injuries including brain damage and internal bleeding, the Mexican consul general in San Antonio said. 

In this aerial view, members of law enforcement investigate<strong>d</strong> a tractor-trailer on June 27, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas, where dozens of dead migrants were found.

In this aerial view, members of law enforcement investigate<strong>d</strong> a tractor-trailer on June 27, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas, where dozens of dead migrants were found. ((Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images))

Though it has so far been a tedious process of identifying the victims found without identification documents, and at least one case of a stolen ID, the majority of the dead identified so far were Mexican nationals, while foreign ministers in Guatemala and Honduras have claimed a handful of victims. 

According to court documents, San Antonio police officers researched the Texas plate on the semi-truck trailer and found it registered to an address in the 100 block of Arnold Drive. 

Officers established surveillance on the residence and observed a Hispanic male, later identified as D’Luna-Bilbao, leaving the home, driving alone in a Ford F-250. Officers conducted a traffic stop on the truck, and D’Luna-Bilbao informed the officers of a firearm in the truck’s center console, the complaint says. Officers found a Fratelli Tanfoglio model GT380, .380 handgun inside the vehicle. 

Police and other first responders work the scene where officials say dozens of people have been found dead and multiple others were taken to hospitals with heat-related illnesses after a semitrailer containing suspected migrants was found Monday, June 27, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas. 

Police and other first responders work the scene where officials say dozens of people have been found dead and multiple others were taken to hospitals with heat-related illnesses after a semitrailer containing suspected migrants was found Monday, June 27, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas.  ((AP Photo/Eric Gay))

Separately, officers also conducted a related traffic stop on a truck seen leaving the residence driven by another Hispanic male, later identified as D’Luna-Mendez, according to a second complaint. 

The complaints say officers obtained a state search warrant for the residence. More firearms were recovered from D’Luna-Bilbao’s bedroom. They were listed as a Mossberg model 600AT, 12-gauge Any Other Weapon (NFA), and a Beretta model 800 Cougar F. 9mm handgun. 

From D’Luna-Mendez’s bedroom, the complaint says an American Tactical Imports model Omni Hybrid, multi-caliber rifle, a German Sport Guns model GSG-5P, .22 caliber handgun, and a Smith & Wesson model M&P 9 Shield M2.0, 9mm handgun were also recovered. 

Members of the community take part in a vigil for the dozens of people have been found dead Monday in a semitrailer containing suspected migrants, Tuesday, June 28, 2022, in San Antonio.

Members of the community take part in a vigil for the dozens of people have been found dead Monday in a semitrailer containing suspected migrants, Tuesday, June 28, 2022, in San Antonio.

After D’Luna-Bilbao was read his Miranda rights, Homeland Security Investigations special agents conducted an interview with him, during which D’Luna-Bilbao allegedly admitted to possessing the handgun in his truck and the shotgun in his bedroom, according to the criminal complaint. 

D’Luna-Bilbao also allegedly admitted his immigration status in the U.S. as a visa overstay.

In his post-Miranda interview, D’Luna-Mendez admitted to possession of the three firearms found in his bedroom, as well as his immigration status in the U.S. as a visa overstay. 

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ATF examination revealed the firearms seized were not manufactured in Texas and therefore traveled in interstate and/or foreign commerce, according to the court documents. 

Immigration records showed both men are citizens and nationals of Mexico living in the U.S. illegally, once possessed valid B-2 visas, and did not return to Mexico on the expiration of the visas. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.