- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2018

A man accused of smuggling illegal immigrants through the Texas heat in a sweltering tractor-trailer in July, resulting in the deaths of 10 men, has been sentenced to life in prison, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Friday.

James Matthew Bradley Jr., 61 of Louisville, Kentucky, was sentenced in federal court in San Antonio to one count of transporting immigrants resulting in death and another count of conspiracy. He was also ordered to forfeit his tractor-trailer to the government along with $5,6000 and a .38 caliber pistol recovered from inside the cab.

In one of the nation’s deadliest human-trafficking incidents, Bradley had packed 39 illegal immigrants into the back of his 18-wheeler, according to court records. The smugglers allegedly told the immigrants that the truck had a cooling system, but the immigrants soon discovered the refrigeration unit was not working. They were trapped in the sweltering truck without water, court documents allege.

Bradley finally stopped at a San Antonio Walmart on July 23, according to court records. Police were alerted of the situation when one of the immigrants asked a Walmart employee for some water, the Justice Department said in court documents.

Police arrived to find a shocking scene. In total, 39 illegal immigrants were found at the scene and eight had died, prosecutors said. Two more died at area hospitals, according to court documents.

Court records show that the truck had up to 200 people in it at one point during the trip.

“Smuggling illegal aliens into this country disregards both our laws and their safety,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “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.”

Bradley pleaded guilty in October, while another man, Pedro Silva, 37, who had been living illegally in Laredo, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death. Silva, who also faces a possible life sentence, remains in federal custody with sentencing scheduled for June 29.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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