By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - A second man pleaded guilty on Thursday to arranging the transport of dozens of immigrants across Texas last year that ended with 10 of them dead or dying in a sweltering tractor-trailer in a San Antonio parking lot.
Pedro Silva Segura, 47, faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty before a federal magistrate judge in San Antonio to one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death.
According to court documents, Segura operated a "stash house" in Laredo, on the Rio Grande, where undocumented immigrants were housed by smugglers while awaiting further transport to urban centers across the country.
A Homeland Security Investigations special agent, Shane Folden, said in the court papers that on the evening of July 22, 2017, Segura delivered five illegal immigrants to a tractor trailer to be driven into the interior of Texas by Kentucky trucker James Bradley, 61.
Later in the evening, with the temperatures in the 90s, Bradley’s truck left for San Antonio, three hours away, with as many as 200 men, women and children, including several unaccompanied minors, jammed into the un-air conditioned trailer.
Early the next morning, police were called to a Walmart parking lot on Interstate 35 in south San Antonio, where they found 39 people, eight of them dead inside the truck. Another 20 were rushed to area hospitals, where two died.
The others had already been picked up by immigrant smugglers.
Bradley, who was arrested at the scene, pleaded guilty in October to human smuggling charges and faces a life prison term when he is sentenced later this year.
(Reporting by Jim Forsyth in San Antonio; Editing by Dan Whitcomband Leslie Adler)