James Matthew Bradley, Jr., Sentenced to Life in Federal Prison for Transporting Illegal Aliens Resulting in Death
In San Antonio today, Senior United States District Judge David A. Ezra sentenced 61–year–old Louisville, KY, truck driver James Matthew Bradley, Jr., to life in federal prison without parole for his role in an illegal alien smuggling operation that resulted in ten deaths, announced Attorney General Jeff Sessions, United States Attorney John F. Bash and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden.
Judge Ezra also ordered that Bradley 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.
“Smuggling illegal aliens into this country disregards both our laws and their safety,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “The defendant's actions in this case led to the agonizing deaths of 10 people. Were it not for his actions, they might still be alive today. This case is a reminder of why the Trump administration and this Department of Justice have renewed our commitment to enforcing our criminal immigration laws and why we are going to continue to work to secure our borders. I want to thank the fabulous Assistant U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted this case, Christina Playton and Matthew Lathrop, as well as our partners with ICE, HSI, CBP, the San Antonio Police and Fire Departments and the Bexar County Sheriff's Office for helping us achieve justice. This tragic case is yet another reminder that Congress must end the incentives that encourage illegal immigration and alien smuggling in the first place.”
After sentencing United States Attorney John F. Bash said, “I am gratified that the court imposed an appropriate punishment for this horrific crime. Through this prosecution, we have sent two unmistakable messages: first, that alien smuggling is a dangerous offense with real victims; and second, that DOJ will seek justice for all victims of crime, no matter their legal status.”
“But I have a further message for those employers who knowingly hire unauthorized immigrants by the dozens, in blatant violation of federal law: You are creating the economic incentive for precisely the sort of deadly exploitation of vulnerable people that occurred in this case. And we will be looking very hard at how our system of criminal justice can eliminate that incentive.”
On October 16, 2017, 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 illegal 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 illegal aliens.
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 illegal aliens. Of the 39 illegal 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 illegal aliens estimated the trailer contained between 70 and 180 to 200 people during transport. They also described differing fees for being transported.
“Today’s sentencing of James Matthew Bradley, Jr., brings some closure to a truly horrific and unnecessary tragedy that involved exploiting human cargo for pure greed,” said Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, HSI San Antonio. “Not only were ten lives lost, but many more were injured as a result of Bradley’s participation in this illegal scheme. HSI continues to aggressively target and dismantle transnational criminal organizations that profit from the suffering of individuals. On a daily basis, criminal networks conspire to smuggle, transport and harbor individuals for financial gain at the expense of others.”
On March 8, 2018, Bradley’s co-defendant, 47–year–old Pedro Silva Segura, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death. Those charges stem from a superseding federal grand jury indictment handed down on September 20, 2017. Silva, a Mexican citizen residing in Laredo, TX, remains in federal custody pending sentencing scheduled for June 29, 2018. He faces up to life in federal prison.
The U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) lead 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.