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Suspected illegal immigrants scatter

Aug. 6, 2012 at 3:06 a.m.
Updated Aug. 7, 2012 at 3:07 a.m.

Noward Bell, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice corrections officer, rides a horse near the San Antonio River during a search for 20 people who were believed to be illegal immigrants.

The search was still on, on Monday evening for the people who bailed out of a pickup truck on U.S. Highway 59 just south of Goliad Monday.

A Department of Public Safety trooper was attempting to pull the driver of a truck over on U.S. Highway 59 near Farm-to-Market Road 239 at 12:30 p.m. Monday when the driver went off the road and 20 people, thought to be illegal immigrants, ran from the truck to the woods, Goliad County Sheriff Kirby Brumby said.

After running the license plates, the trooper found that the plates were stolen and did not match the truck, which had also been stolen from Houston.

Sheriff's deputies are searching the area with assistance from state troopers. Border patrol agents and Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials are also on the scene. They were using horses and prison dogs from Beeville to conduct the search, and have apprehended four people from the vehicle, Brumby said. Pursuit of the other vehicle occupants has led law enforcement into town near Ferry Street on the edge of the San Antonio River. Officials believe the passengers may have fled to the river.

Law enforcement officials are mainly in pursuit of the driver of the vehicle, Brumby said, and the prison dogs are tracking the scent of the person believed to be the driver.

"The ones running this are the ones we're most interested in capturing," he said.

The four men who have been apprehended are believed to be from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Brumby said. Sheriff's deputies gave the men food and water once they had apprehended them, but they seemed to be in good health, he said. Border patrol agents took custody of the men and transported them to Corpus Christi. The men said they had paid the drivers to be taken to Houston.

This comes just weeks after another truck loaded with illegal immigrants blew a tire in Goliad County, just outside of Berclair. The wreck killed 15 of the 23 occupants of the vehicle. Brumby said he understands people wanting to come here, but worries about their safety.

"Any accident is tragic. These people are paying big bucks to be taken to Houston, but they're being treated inhumanely," he said. "They need to figure out some legal way to come to the country, but we're trying to treat them right and keep them safe."



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