Police in England made a gruesome discovery when they found the bodies of 39 people stuffed into the back of a tractor-trailer truck on Wednesday morning.
Now the driver is in custody and officials are trying to uncover the mystery behind who they were and how they ended up losing their lives.
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) October 23, 2019
British police first announced that they’d made the horrific discovery after reports alerted them to people inside the container in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The truck was stationed in an industrial site about 20 miles outside of London.
When emergency teams opened up the back of the truck, they found the deceased bodies of 38 adults and one teenager.
The driver, a 25-year-old male suspect from Northern Ireland, has been taken into police custody.
Investigators believed that the truck had entered Britain on Saturday by coming through Holyhead, a major port of entry in Northern Wales. They say the truck originated from Bulgaria.
— ITV News (@itvnews) October 23, 2019
Now authorities are trying to identify the mass group of victims… and figure out how they ended up meeting their demise.
“At this stage, we have not identified where the victims are from or their identities and we anticipate this could be a lengthy process,” Essex Police Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills told reporters. “This is an absolute tragedy.”
Reuters reported that the country often deals with trucks carrying in large groups of people undetected. A similar occurrence happened in 2000 when customs officials reportedly discovered 58 people deceased inside the back of a tomato truck.
While some news outlets have been reporting that the driver is suspected of murder, one person speculated that the group of 39 people had run out of air in the back of the truck.
“Can we just think for a moment of what it must have been like for those 39 people, obviously in a desperate and dangerous situation, for their lives to end, suffocated to death in a container,” said Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party.
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Boris Johnson also spoke up to condemn the alleged smuggling.
“We know that this trade is going on – all such traders in human beings should be hunted down and brought to justice,” he said.
Bulgarian officials also commented on the grisly situation.
“At present, it has not yet been confirmed whether the truck has a Bulgarian registration,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman said, according to Reuters. “There is also no indication of the nationality of the human bodies found in the truck. British police have warned that the identification of the bodies will take a long time.”
United States officials discovered a similar situation last week but caught on before anything tragic could happen.
Federal officials say that two men are now facing federal human smuggling charges after DHS agents discovered nearly three-dozen people in the back of a refrigerated tractor-trailer truck last Monday night.
According to a report from FOX, the truck was going through a checkpoint in southern Arizona when a dog alerted the CBP officials to the back of the truck. When they opened the trailer doors, they didn’t just find the produce stashed back there, but instead found 32 passengers from Ecuador and Mexico sitting inside.
Despite the frigid temperatures in the back of the truck, officials at the scene said that most of the people in the back were only wearing t-shirts.
The driver and passenger of the vehicle, identified only as U.S. citizens in their 30’s, were immediately arrested. Authorities took the 32 individuals to the Nogales port of entry to be processed for immigration violations.