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Investigation into deadly train car human smuggling case leads to one arrest

Law enforcement from Uvalde and Border Patrol agents responded to 911 calls from inside a train near Knippa, Texas, on Friday, March 24.
Joey Palacios
Law enforcement from Uvalde and Border Patrol agents responded to 911 calls from inside a train near Knippa, Texas, on Friday, March 24.

One person has been arrested in connection with the deaths of two migrants found in a train car near Knippa last week. A Honduran national admitted to being the guide that led nearly a dozen people onto the train.

Denniso Carranza Gonzales was arrested on March 24, when at least a dozen people were found inside a shipping container on a Union Pacific train.

Two Honduran men died and 10 others were taken to hospitals in San Antonio, Uvalde and Hondo. Carranza Gonzales faces at least one charge of “conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death,” according to federal court documents.

Carranza Gonzales told federal authorities he was a foot guide who would lead groups of migrants from Piedras Negras to Eagle Pass and onto the trains bound for San Antonio.

According to the criminal complaint, Carranza Gonzales had boarded the train with the migrants.

One day after 17 migrants were found suffocating in a train car in Texas, law enforcement authorities found 12 more migrants on Saturday in another rail car along the border with Mexico. One of the migrants was dead.

“Carranza Gonzales stated during this smuggling venture he guided a group of Honduran nationals from Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico to the trains in Eagle Pass, Texas. Carranza Gonzales stated he would tell the group which ways to go, when to hide when helicopters were overhead. Carranza Gonzales stated once the group arrived at the designated train another man arrived and advised him the group would be placed in a Conex box on a rail car,” the complaint said.

He told authorities the train car grew extremely hot, and when he could not contact another man who had helped them onto the train to open the car, those inside began calling 911.

The complaint explained that he was not aware anyone had perished during his smuggling venture. It was not immediately clear if he was involved in another smuggling incident that took place in Eagle Pass on a different train next day that resulted in the death of another man.

A judge in Del Rio has ordered Carranza Gonzales be detained without bond. A public defender was appointed to represent him.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Border and Immigration News Desk, including the Catena Foundation and Texas Mutual Insurance Company.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules