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Victoria deputies arrest four men after chase

By Sonny Long
Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.

Victoria County Chief Deputy Terry Simons, left, and Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor talk after searching one of three vehicles they confiscated Tuesday afternoon off of Nursery Road.

COMING SOON

Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said a town hall meeting will be held soon in the Fordtran area to alert residents of the increased trafficking taking place on the roads in that part of the county. The meeting date and time will be announced soon.

"We need our citizens to continue to be our eyes and ears and report anything unusual or out of the ordinary they might see," O'Connor said. "We want to have this meeting to keep everyone up to date on what's going on."

Victoria County Sheriff's deputies detained four men Tuesday morning after a short chase along Nursery Road, about 15 miles north of Victoria.

Three vehicles were also confiscated and law enforcement officers continued to search for "two or three" more men who bailed from the vehicles and ran into the woods, said Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor.

Three of the men who were detained, all with Houston addresses, have been charged with human smuggling.

Arrested were Israel Alcatraz, 20, Elaizar Gonzalez, 27, and Jose Luis Fuentes, 29.

The fourth man continues to be investigated, said Chief Deputy Terry Simons.

The chase began about 10:30 a.m. after a deputy attempted to make a traffic stop on one of the vehicles.

One vehicle was initially used to block the deputy from pursuit, said Simons.

All three vehicles fled, but were eventually stopped or found abandoned at different locations miles apart and the four men detained.

The vehicles confiscated included a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado, a 2003 Ford Expedition and a 1999 Ford Expedition.

"When you have multiple vehicles, they are well-trained, they know what they are doing," said the sheriff. "They have communications, they have pre-planned."

"They want to spread our officers thin because we are thin already," he said.

O'Connor said witnesses saw two men fleeing one vehicle on foot and carrying duffel bags.

"That tells us that it was probably narcotics," O'Connor said. "Those are the ones we really want to get hold of because of what they are carrying."

"It's a trafficking issue," he said.

It's that issue - trafficking of either drugs or humans - that had the sheriff ticked off about Tuesday's chase.

"I don't want to stand here and be one to complain, but today I have a real attitude with this," O'Connor said. "We tie up a lot of resources with this type of conduct that the state and federal, mainly the federal (government), are not taking care of. We receive it indirectly. It's all border related and the corridor.

"We've been so aggressive on the main roads, they are using these back roads, ranch roads, gravel roads. It's taking them twice as long to their destination," he said.

A receipt found in one of the vehicles showed it had been washed and filled with gas in Sugar Land about 3 p.m. Monday.

The sheriff said the county does receive grant funds to take part in the Border Star program and it paid off Tuesday when two officers on Border Star duty were nearby and able to assist the deputy who initiated the traffic stop.

"We have to have the tools to deny this and make them go somewhere else or detain the traffickers," O'Connor said.

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