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Four Mexican Nationals Arrested In Tragic Texas Smuggling Incident

Anastasia Boushee
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A tractor-trailer smuggling incident led to the deaths of 53 illegal aliens in June 2022, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has finally arrested the four Mexican nationals responsible for those deaths one year later.

On June 27, 2022, a worker found a tractor-trailer on a back road in San Antonio, Texas — hearing cries for help coming from inside the truck. It was discovered that the tractor-trailer contained at least 60 illegal aliens — 53 of whom died, including teenagers and a pregnant woman. The number was revised several times, as several illegal aliens died after being transported to the hospital.

On the anniversary of the tragedy, ICE announced the arrests of four Mexican nationals responsible for the smuggling incident.

The men being charged for the incident have been identified as 30-year-old Riley Covarrubias-Ponce, 28-year-old Felipe Orduna-Torres, 37-year-old Luis Alberto Rivera-Leal and 53-year-old Armando Gonzales-Ortega.

According to a press release from ICE, these individuals allegedly “participated in a human smuggling organization which illegally brought adults and children from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico into the United States” from December 2021 to June 2022.

“The alleged smugglers worked in concert to transport the migrants by sharing routes, guides, stash houses, trucks, trailers and transporters to consolidate costs, minimize risks and maximize profit,” the press release continued. “The organization maintained a variety of tractors and trailers for their smuggling operations, some of which were stored at a private parking lot in San Antonio.”

Officials also noted that some of the defendants were fully aware that the air conditioning in the tractor-trailer was not working at the time of the incident when they were carrying at least 66 illegal aliens — including eight children and a pregnant woman — in the sweltering heat.


The men are accused of maintaining multiple tractors and trailers for their smuggling organization. 

At least 66 migrants, including eight children and a pregnant woman, were smuggled in the tractor-trailer in the sweltering heat last year. Some of the defendants charged this week allegedly knew that the vehicle’s air-conditioning unit was not working, officials said.

Two Texas residents, including the individual who was driving the tractor-trailer, were charged over the incident in July 2022.