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Chase yields pot discovery (video)

Sonny Long

By Sonny Long
July 18, 2012 at 2:18 a.m.
Updated July 19, 2012 at 2:19 a.m.

Stopped on the railroad tracks north of Victoria, the doors of a Suburban are left wide open after at least four people bailed out and ran from sheriff's deputies. Three of the occupants have been apprehended. Deputy Craig Kirkpatrick attempted to stop the vehicle on a traffic violation, but the suspects fled at speeds reaching more than 100 mph, before the vehicle crashed four miles north of Nursery on U.S. Highway 87.

Three of at least four men in a Suburban that led police on a high-speed chase Wednesday morning have been arrested.

Around 6:30 p.m., the men were found walking on a ranch off Nursery Road in the area of U.S. 87 where they wrecked the vehicle.

Officers found 600 pounds of marijuana in the Suburban.

Officials were still searching for the fourth, described as a Hispanic man. A fifth person could have possibly been in the SUV, but officers are not sure.

Officers on horseback and search dogs were looking for the fourth man. They have contained a seven-mile radius in the hunt.

"We have been at it since 9:30 in the morning, so we are getting tired. But the good thing is he is on foot and he is worse (off)," said Victoria County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Terry Simons of the search around 8 p.m.

The pursuit began when sheriff's office Cpl. Craig Kirkpatrick., on routine patrol in his marked vehicle, tried to stop the vehicle on a suspected traffic violation.

"The Suburban was following another vehicle too closely, and I attempted to stop it south of Victoria on U.S. Highway 59," Kirkpatrick said.

The pursuit continued onto Southwest Moody Street and north on Main Street, at times reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, said sheriff's office Chief Deputy Terry Simons.

The 2006 Chevrolet Suburban was wrecked about four miles north of Nursery as it veered off U.S. Highway 87 near a private road, went through a ditch and onto the railroad, Kirkpatrick said.

The corporal and his drug dog partner, Rocky, tracked the occupants for more than a mile until the underbrush became too thick, Kirkpatrick said.

The search continued with helicopters from the Texas Department of Public Safety and U.S. Customs and Border Protection and tracking dogs from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The Suburban had the markings of a Union Pacific Railroad vehicle and was registered in Houston, but not reported stolen, Kirkpatrick said.

The SUV could have been purchased at an auction and never re-registered. These type of "clone" vehicles are being used more and more in drug trafficking, Kirkpatrick said.

"Especially with the increase in oil field companies in the area, vehicles with company markings are showing up more and more," he said. "They also use old postal service vehicles, Fed Ex, anything they think they can get away with."



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