Truck Driver Pleads Guilty to Charges in Fatal Immigrant Smuggling Incident

James Bradley enters San Antonio's federal courthouse in July. - VIDEO SCREENSHOT, VIA ABC 13
Video screenshot, via ABC 13
James Bradley enters San Antonio's federal courthouse in July.
James Bradley, Jr. pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to smuggling undocumented immigrants in the back of his semi truck — a journey that resulted in ten deaths. The federal charges leave Bradley facing life behind bars.

Bradley was arrested on July 23, after San Antonio police found 30 people packed into a windowless, sweltering cargo trailer in a southwest side Walmart. Ten of those passengers died from lack of oxygen or heat exhaustion. Many reported that the trailer held up to 200 people at one point in the trip.

Bradley initially claimed he had no idea he was transporting people until he stopped for a bathroom break at Walmart, even though victims said they were yelling and banging from inside of the trailer throughout the ride. On Monday, however, he told U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad that he had, in fact, conspired to transport the immigrants for financial gain.

"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," said Shane Folden, an agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in a Monday press statement.

In admitting his guilt, Bradley also forfeited his semi truck, a pistol, and $5,600. His sentencing hearing will take place on Jan. 22, 2018.

This comes days after the feds shut down Pyle Transportation, the trailer company that had hired Bradley to deliver one of its trailers on his truck bed — the trailer that eventually carried dozens of overheating people.

Pedro Silva Segura, a Laredo man who's been charged as a co-conspirator in this case, has yet to seek a plea deal or have a sentencing hearing. In the meantime, ICE has begun to deport the journey's traumatized survivors.
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