Thirty-eight people, eight of whom were deceased, were found in the back of an 18-wheeler in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot.  Temperatures reaching as high as 100 degrees and a lack of water are believed to have been the cause of the deaths.

Authorities are calling it a “horrific” human trafficking case involving the smuggling of illegal aliens across the porous Southern border.  San Antonio is suing Texas Governor Gregg Abbott over the state’s law banning sanctuary cities.

Fox News reports:

Eight people were found dead Sunday morning inside a sweltering 18-wheeler parked outside of a San Antonio Walmart in what police called a horrific human trafficking case.

A total of 38 people had been inside the tractor-trailer, including two school-age children, authorities said. Twenty people were taken to area hospitals in critical condition, and another eight had “less critical” injuries.

“We’re looking at human trafficking crime here this evening,” Police Chief William McManus said, adding that it was “a horrific tragedy.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is also looking into the incident. The driver of the vehicle, who was not identified, was arrested, according to Fox 29.

Since that report, the driver has been identified according to Heavy.com.

The case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, with the Department of Homeland Security, specifically ICE, investigating, along with local authorities. James Bradley remains in custody and charges, including those related to human trafficking, are expected to be brought against him soon, the San Antonio Express-News reports. A federal complaint is being filed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office told the newspaper.

“We’re working on a complaint right now. He’s in custody and he will be charged,” U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin said.

“The South Texas heat is punishing this time of year. These people were helpless in the hands of their transporters,” Durbin said in a statement. “Imagine their suffering, trapped in a stifling trailer in 100-plus degree heat. The driver is in custody and will be charged. We will work with the Homeland Security Investigations and the local responders to identify those who were responsible for this tragedy.”

It’s not clear how long the 38 illegal aliens were in the cargo area of the sweltering truck—it had no working air conditioning—before being found by a Walmart employee who had been asked by one of the truck’s occupants for water.

KENS5 has further details:

An employee at the Walmart encountered a person who was disoriented and asking for water, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said. The person said that there were people who needed help inside the trailer outside the store, which is located at I-35 and Highway 16 on the city’s southwest side.

When police arrived on the scene around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, they detained the driver immediately and searched the trailer to find several people in various stages of medical distress. At least 29 fire units and two AirLIFE choppers responded to the scene to take care of the victims.

Police said there was a total of 38 victims in and around the trailer. The 17 victims with life-threatening injuries were taken to University Hospital and San Antonio Military Medical Center. The 13 victims with non-life threatening injuries were taken to five other area hospitals.

Eight victims were pronounced dead at the scene, and officials said all of the deceased are believed to have died as a result of heat exposure/asphyxiation. Their bodies were taken to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office to be examined so a cause of death can be determined.

Store cameras picked up a number of vehicles picking up people who had been in the trailer, and police are working to identify these vehicles and their owners.  ICE and Homeland Security are also looking into the incident.

KEN5 continues:

McManus called the incident a “horrific tragedy.” He said store surveillance video showed a number of vehicles arriving at the parking lot and picking up people who had been in the trailer. Police were working to identify those vehicles.

McManus said the trailer appeared to be a smuggling operation. He said the people in the trailer would be reviewed by ICE agents to determine their immigration status. Also, it was announced later Sunday morning that the Department of Homeland Security was taking the lead on the investigation of the incident.

Watch the report:

The reaction on Twitter has been focused on the need to secure our border and #BuildTheWall.

UPDATE:

A ninth person is confirmed dead (via Fox News).