By Ray Sanchez, Joe Sutton and Rebekah Riess, CNN
At least six migrants were killed and 10 others have been found in three separate human smuggling incidents in Texas in the past 24 hours, authorities said.
Four migrants were killed and three people critically injured Thursday during a highway chase and crash in Encinal, Texas, just days after 53 migrants died in and around a tractor-trailer abandoned in San Antonio in the deadliest human smuggling incident in US history.
Thursday’s crash was on Interstate 35 about 40 miles north of Laredo, according to Lt. Chris Olivarez, a spokesman for the South Texas region of the state Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Four men were pronounced dead on Interstate 35 in what’s being investigated as “a human smuggling attempt,” according to a statement from Texas Highway Patrol Sgt. Erick Estrada.
Estrada said “a white Jeep SUV was evading United States Border Patrol traveling north” on I-35. The Jeep took an exit at high speed, losing control and rear-ending a parked semitrailer.
The driver, a male who remains in critical condition, and two male passengers were injured and taken to a hospital, according to Estrada.
Two of the four men who died were from Guatemala, another from Mexico, and one has yet to be identified, the sergeant said. The injured were from Guatemala, Mexico and the driver is from the United States. The driver was airlifted to a hospital, according to Olivarez.
Early Wednesday, in Palmview near McAllen, a single-vehicle roller crash involved a driver who was evading US Border Patrol and lost control of the vehicle, Olivarez told CNN.
Four occupants were ejected, and two men were killed, according to Olivarez. A male and female were critically injured in the migrant smuggling case.
The US Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector reported that Eagle Pass agents had foiled a smuggling attempt involving 10 people found locked in a tractor-trailer, according to a tweet Wednesday from Chief Patrol Agent Jason D. Owens.
Monday’s tragedy also occurred I-35 — a major north-south route in the central United States for traffic and commerce from the southern border. The route is often exploited by smugglers at a time when record numbers of migrants are being intercepted at the US-Mexico border.
On Monday in San Antonio, about 120 miles north on I-35 from Encinal, 53 migrants died in what a Homeland Security Investigations’ official called the deadliest human smuggling incident in US history.
A worker near the interstate called San Antonio police after finding a tractor-trailer abandoned under the hot sun on a back road, with dozens of dead migrants inside. Some victims could be younger than 18.
“The floor of the trailer … was completely covered in bodies. Completely covered in bodies,” Police Chief William McManus told CNN. “There were at least 10-plus bodies outside the trailer.”
Authorities in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras have said they are collaborating with the US in trying to identify the people who died in San Antonio.
More than a dozen people were found alive inside the tractor-trailer and hospitalized for heat-related conditions, authorities said.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the human smuggling incident.
Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, who is originally from Brownsville but resides in Pasadena, Texas, was arrested Wednesday on criminal charges related to alleged involvement in human smuggling resulting in death, according to a US Department of Justice statement.
Zamorano has a lengthy criminal record dating back to the 1990s, public records show.
Laredo Sector Border Patrol surveillance footage showed the tractor-trailer passing an immigration checkpoint, according to the DOJ. The driver could be seen wearing a black shirt with stripes and a hat.
Zamorano matched the driver in the surveillance footage, the DOJ said.
CNN has been unable to determine whether he has an attorney.
Another suspect, Christian Martinez, 28, was arrested on Tuesday in Palestine, Texas, and charged with one count of conspiracy to transport undocumented migrants resulting in death, the DOJ said.
Two other men, Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, have been charged with “possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the United States,” according to criminal complaints filed Monday.
Authorities located the men after responding to the semi-truck incident, according to the affidavit.
The attorney for D’Luna-Mendez declined comment. CNN has reached out to D’Luna-Bilbao’s attorney for comment.
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CNN’s Rosa Flores contributed to this report.