'All about the money': 51 dead in San Antonio reveals harsh world of human smuggling

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  • Experts said the San Antonio disaster points to the recklessness with which smugglers act to transport migrants.
  • The tragedy has claimed at least 51 lives and left a dozen more suspected migrants hospitalized.
  • The advent of Mexican organized-crime rings into human smuggling operations in recent years has turned border-crossing into a major enterprise.

From people stuffed into steel boxes, compartments hidden under the sleeping quarters of diesel truck cabs or tractor-trailers specially modified to maximize the amount of human cargo, Sheriff Urbino “Benny” Martinez in Brooks County, Texas, has seen human smuggling conditions that make his blood boil.

“Any place they can fit a body, they’re going to do it,” said Martinez, who works about two hours from the U.S.-Mexico border. “They’ll bring them in tractor-trailers, U-Haul trucks, pickup beds, anything that will take a body in there. It’s all about the money.”

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