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Matagorda officers chase suspected human traffickers, immigrants

By adriana_acosta
July 24, 2012 at 2:24 a.m.
Updated July 25, 2012 at 2:25 a.m.

A Ford pickup, reported stolen, crashed into a tree about one mile north of Chalmers Road on state Highway 60 after a chase  by Matagorda County Sheriff's Office and the Bay City Police Department.

BAY CITY - Two pickup trucks carrying 26 suspected illegal immigrants fled from officers Tuesday morning.

One truck wrecked in Matagorda County, while the other stopped in Wharton County and the 12 occupants fled.

The incident started around 8 a.m., when Matagorda County officials received word from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office that a green Dodge pickup reported as stolen was headed their way on Farm-to-Market Road 616.

"Matagorda County deputy Jesse Barrera located the vehicle traveling east on 12st Street in Bay City," said Lt. Frank Craft, with the Matagorda County Sheriff's Office Marine and Narcotics Division.

Barrera turned on his lights and siren, but the driver refused to stop, he said.

The deputy followed the truck and realized there was a silver Ford F-150 pickup also traveling with the Dodge pickup, Craft said.

Both vehicles had been reported stolen from Harris County, said Craft.

During the pursuit, the Ford truck crashed into a tree about one mile north of Chalmers Road on state Highway 60, he said.

The pickup was carrying 14 people, all suspected illegal immigrants.

Craft said four people, including a woman, were taken to Matagorda County Regional Medical Center for treatment of injuries. Of the remaining 10 people, eight were taken to the Matagorda County Jail and two fled and have not been located.

All of the injured were treated at the hospital and released, said Tiffany Foltyn with the Matagorda County Regional Medical Center. No other information was provided.

Matagorda County Sheriff's deputies, DPS troopers and Bay City Police Department officers joined in the pursuit, which continued north on Highway 60, where Wharton County Sheriff's Office deputies picked up the chase.

In Wharton, deputy Christina Gibson, along with DPS Trooper Juan Aguilar, pursued the Dodge pickup until it came to a stop just north of County Road 114.

"Once they stopped the pickup, they all bailed out," said Lt. Daniel Marek, Wharton County Sheriff's Office criminal investigations and narcotics.

The 12 occupants fled and none had been apprehended as of Tuesday evening.

Deputies patrolled the area in search for them.

"We have been getting calls from residents spotting them, but once we get there, they are gone," he said.

The occupants of the Ford pickup held at the Matagorda County jail were released to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.



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