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22 migrants who died in a hot semi-truck in San Antonio have been identified

<i>Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images</i><br/>Mourners place water bottles at a makeshift memorial for the 53 migrants found dead in a semi-truck on the outskirts of San Antonio
Getty Images
Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images
Mourners place water bottles at a makeshift memorial for the 53 migrants found dead in a semi-truck on the outskirts of San Antonio

By Rosa Flores, Rosalina Nieves and Nicole Chavez, CNN

Twenty-two migrants found dead in a sweltering semi-truck in San Antonio, or who died in the days after, have been named for the first time on Wednesday by the Bexar County medical examiner, now that most of the 53 migrants have been identified by authorities.

More than a week after what is believed to have been the deadliest human smuggling incident in US history, which took place on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas, families in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras continue to grieve and anxiously wait for answers.

The Bexar County medical examiner said 47 of the victims have been “conclusively” identified but officials are still working to confirm the identities of six others. On Wednesday, the medical examiner shared the names of 22 victims whose next of kin have been notified.

Among those, 16 are from Mexico, four from Guatemala and two from Honduras. Their ages range between 13 and 55.

The youngest victims were 13-year-old Pascual Melvin Guachiac Sipac and 14-year-old Juan Wilmer Tulul Tepaz — two cousins who had left their village in Guatemala hoping to find jobs in Houston, their families told CNN en Español.

“He had so many dreams. He dreamed of a better future, building a home, supporting his siblings as well as his father,” María Tutul, a cousin of Juan Wilmer, told CNN en Español.

Another victim, Adela Betulia Ramirez Quezada, 27, who lived in Cuyamel, a small town in northwest Honduras, was convinced she’d find a better life in the US, where her mom and sisters were already living, her family said.

“I told her — ‘Don’t go. Here you live well. Here you can live anywhere you want, working,'” her grandmother Adela Aguilar told CNN affiliate Televicentro.

The 22 victims identified Wednesday are:

• Adela Betulia Ramirez Quezada, 27, of Honduras

• Alvaro Ojeda Salazar, 23, of Mexico

• Efrain Garcia Ferrel, 22, of Mexico

• Enrique Chavez, 37, of Guatemala

• Fernando Gallegas Garcia, 38, of Mexico

• Gustavo Santillan Santillan, 27, of Mexico

• J. Marcial Trejo Hernandez, 38, of Mexico

• Jair Valencia Olivares, 20, of Mexico

• Javier Flores-Lopez, 35, of Mexico

• Jesus Alvarez Ortega, 43, of Mexico

• Jose Guadalupe Narciso Muñiz Lopez, 35, of Mexico

• Josue Diaz Gallardo, 34, of Mexico

• Juan Valeriano-Domitilo, 55, of Mexico

• Juan Wilmer Tulul Tepaz, 14, of Guatemala

• Maria Monterro-Serrato, 28, of Mexico

• Mariano Santiago Hipolito, 32, of Mexico

• Misael Olivares Monterde, 16, of Mexico

• Pablo Ortega Alvarez, 20, of Mexico

• Pascual Melvin Guachiac Sipac, 13, of Guatemala

• Yazmin Nayarith Bueso Nunez, 37, of Honduras

• Yeisan Efrain Jimenez, 20, of Guatemala

The government of Honduras previously identified Ramirez Quezada and Bueso Nunez as victims. The country said two brothers in their 20s, and the wife of one of them, had perished.

“We planned it together as a family, so that they could have a different life, so that they would achieve their goals and dreams,” Karen Caballero, the men’s mother, told reporters last week in front of her home in Las Vegas, Honduras. “This was the jumping-off point.”

At least four people have been charged in connection with the deadly smuggling incident.

The alleged driver, Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, who is originally from Brownsville but resides in Pasadena, Texas, was arrested last week on criminal charges related to alleged involvement in human smuggling resulting in death, according to a US Department of Justice news release. He has a lengthy criminal record dating back to the 1990s, public records show.

Zamorano has waived his detention hearing and will remain in custody pending trial, according to court documents filed Wednesday in the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division.

“I know that if I waive my detention hearing, I will remain in custody pending trial,” a document signed by Zamorano read. “I acknowledge that I have no questions and understand my right and the consequences of waiving those rights, and agree to be detained without bond pending trial.”

Judge Elizabeth S. Chestney issued an order granting the motion to detain.

“The court hereby accepts the defendant’s waiver, subject to reconsideration at a later date if appropriate,” read a document signed by Chestney.

Christian Martinez, 28, was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport undocumented migrants resulting in death, the DOJ said.

If convicted, both Zamorano and Martinez could face up to life in prison or the death penalty.

CNN contacted Martinez’s attorney for comment, while Zamorano’s declined to comment. Two others have also been arrested and charged in the case.

The discovery came as US federal authorities launched what they described as an “unprecedented” operation to disrupt human smuggling networks amid an influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border.

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