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April 20, 2018San Antonio, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Defendant in deadly San Antonio tractor trailer receives life in prison

Responsible for the death of 10 individuals

SAN ANTONIO — The defendant charged with an illegal alien smuggling operation that resulted in 10 deaths was sentenced to life in prison Friday.

This sentencing was announced by Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, U.S. Attorney, John Bash, Western District of Texas, and Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Antonio.

James Matthew Bradley Jr., 61, from Louisville, KY appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David A. Ezra, April 20 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. 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 U.S. Attorney 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, 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 many 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 aliens found at the scene 10 died; eight died in the trailer and two died later in area hospitals. There were four juveniles, aged 14 to 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.”

Bradley’s co-defendant, 47-year-old Pedro Silva Segura, an illegal alien residing in Laredo, Texas, faces one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain resulting in death, one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy, and two counts of transporting illegal aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy. Those charges stem from a superseding federal grand jury indictment handed down on Sept. 20, 2017.  Silva, who was arrested in Laredo on an alien smuggling charge, is in federal custody awaiting transfer to San Antonio. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Playton, Western District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.