In San Antonio, 61-year-old James Matthew Bradley, Jr., pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with an undocumented alien smuggling operation that resulted in ten deaths announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden.
Appearing before United States Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad this afternoon, Bradley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death. By pleading guilty, Bradley admitted that on July 23, 2017, 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.
Bradley, who faces up to life in federal prison, remains in custody pending sentencing scheduled for 9:00am on January 22, 2018, before Senior United States District Judge David A. Ezra. Bradley also agreed to forfeit to the Government his tractor-trailer rig, plus approximately $5,600 in U.S. currency and a .38 caliber pistol recovered from inside the cab.
According to court records, which Bradley admitted were factually correct, San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) officers responded to a call at the Wal-Mart store located at 8538 Interstate 35 in San Antonio shortly after midnight on Sunday, July 23, 2017. An officer encountered a tractor-trailer behind the store, finding a number of people standing and lying in the rear of the trailer, and the driver, Bradley, in the cab. At the scene, law enforcement officers discovered 39 undocumented aliens. Of the 39 aliens found at the scene ten (10) died, eight (8) died in the trailer and two (2) died later in area hospitals. There were four juveniles, aged 14-17 years old, within the group of aliens in Bradley’s trailer who were unaccompanied by an adult.
Court records further state that the undocumented aliens estimated the trailer contained between 70 and 180 to 200 people during transport. They also described differing fees for being transported.
“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,” said Shane M. Folden, special agent in charge, HSI San Antonio. “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. HSI is committed to aggressively targeting human smugglers and smuggling organizations, who continually victimize people for profit.”
Bradley’s co-defendant, 47–year-old Pedro Silva Segura, an undocumented alien residing in Laredo, TX, faces one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain resulting in death; one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy; and, two counts of transporting undocumented aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy. Those charges stem from a superseding federal grand jury indictment handed down on September 20, 2017.
Silva, who was arrested in Laredo on an alien smuggling charge, is in custody and awaiting transfer to San Antonio.
The U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is leading this investigation together with ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), the San Antonio Police Department and the San Antonio Fire Department, with assistance from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and the U. S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol. Assistant United States Attorneys Christina Playton and Matthew Lathrop are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. Silva is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.