James Bradley was indicted on Wednesday by a federal grand jury in San Antonio on five counts, including a count of illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain, resulting in death, and a separate count of conspiracy to transport immigrants illegally, resulting in death.
Those charges carry the possibility of the death penalty.
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Bradley was also indicted on two counts related to illegally transporting immigrants resulting in serious bodily injury, and one count of firearm possession by a convicted felon.
The indictment alleges Bradley, who pleaded guilty in 1997 to a domestic violence case in Colorado, was in possession of a .38-calibre pistol.
At least 39 people were inside the trailer as it drove from the border city of Laredo to San Antonio,