About 40 people gather for mass to remember 19 killed May 14, 2003

19th anniversary of deadliest human smuggling case in U.S. history

VICTORIA, Texas – Nineteen years ago at Fleming Prairie Rd. near U.S. 77, 19 undocumented immigrants died inside the back of a hot packed tractor-trailer. A teen and a 5-year-old boy were among the dead. They were locked inside as the temperature in the tractor-trailer reached 173 degrees. A total of 70 people were inside the truck.


Names of the 19 people killed on May 14 2003

Father Flores of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church led the mass. A member of the Mexican consulate was at the mass and reminded the crowd to reach out to the offices for any assistance. Several people shared their thoughts after the service ended. The mother of the teen who died was in attendance and now lives in Houston.


Memorial sign to honor 19 people killed is now missing

A more permanent memorial sign installed years ago was taken at some point and remains missing. Only man-made memorial items remain at the site, including water, crosses, flowers and photos. Organizers have asked a landowner near the site for a small area to build a lasting monument. About 40 people gathered Saturday at noon many had to stand in the middle of the roadway to listen and watch the mass.

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Tomas Angel Mejia attended the mass and said he is reminded of his own family who made it to America for a better life.

Image From Ios

Tomas Angel Mejia with rosary in hand and an umbrella to beat the heat

The man accused in this crime is serving a 34 year federal prison sentence.

You can report issues of human smuggling at 866-DHS-2ICE. The anonymous ICE tip line is 866-347-2423. Or go to ice.gov.

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Names of the 19 killed on May 14, 2003

Marco Antonio Villasenor

Jose Antonio Villasenor

Serafin Rivera

Roberto Rivera

Hector Ramirez

Elisendo Cabanas

Edgar Gabriel Hernandez

Juan Carlos Castillo

Ricardo Gonzalez

Oscar Gonzalez

Catarino Gonzalez

Juan Jose Morales

Mateo Salgado

Chelve Benitez

Rogelio Dominguez

Jose Felicito Figueroa

Jose Mauricio Torres

Augusto Stanley Vargas

Jose Luis Ramirez