SAN ANTONIO — The bodies of two people believed to be migrants who had crossed into Texas from Mexico were found on Friday, along with 13 more people, including at least five who were described as in critical condition, inside a shipping container on a stopped train in Uvalde County, an area known for frequent immigration crossings, officials said.
The mayor of Uvalde, Don McLaughlin Jr., said that at around 3:50 p.m., a 911 call alerted the authorities that about 15 people, most of them believed to be adults, were trapped inside a sweltering shipping container in an area where spring temperatures have hovered in the 80s in recent days.
It was unclear if the call had come from inside the container or if one of the people trapped inside had managed to call a relative and ask for help, the mayor said. When the officers arrived, the container was locked and “wired shut,” said Mr. McLaughlin, who had been briefed by the authorities.
By the time officers managed to pry open the container, they found that two of the people inside were dead and many others were severely dehydrated, he said. Several of the migrants were loaded into ambulances. Five were flown to San Antonio, 60 miles east, and a handful of the migrants seemed to be in good health, the mayor said.
Images from a local news outlet showed a heavy police presence, with local and state police personnel and U.S. Border Patrol agents descending on the rural border region and helicopters hovering over a freight train alongside Highway 90.
The grisly discovery comes months after more than 50 migrants were found dead inside an overheated tractor-trailer in San Antonio, part of a troubling pattern in which human traffickers abandon migrants in deserted areas without regard for their safety, the mayor said. Schools are constantly being put on lockdown when Border Patrol agents pursue migrants trying to evade the authorities in populated areas.
“We need to be addressing what’s going on here in South Texas,” he said. “It’s a tragedy that human lives are being lost — two lives that did not have to be lost. This happens weekly down here — not Uvalde, but the South Texas area.”
The chief of the Uvalde Police Department, Daniel Rodriguez, told KSAT, a local news station, that the tragedy had compounded the grief the small community of Uvalde had been experiencing since the mass shooting last May in which a teenage gunman burst into Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and two teachers.
“It’s sad to see that so many undocumented immigrants were found in this condition, and two of them lost their lives,” Chief Rodriguez said. “It’s heartbreaking.”