A citizen’s tip led to the detention of at least 11 migrants authorities think were in the country illegally Monday afternoon, Raul “Pinky” Gonzales, sheriff for Refugio County, said Tuesday.

Two men were booked into the Victoria County Jail as a result of a pursuit, which crossed into Victoria County, on smuggling charges, according to jail records.

Refugio County sheriff’s deputies who responded to the call were led on a pursuit on U.S. 77 of at least three pickups, which crossed into Victoria County about 5 p.m. Monday, Gonzales said.

The pickups did not yield to the patrol cars’ emergency lights and went on to drive “with no regard for themselves or others,” Gonzales said.

No injuries or damages were reported in the pursuits, Gonzales said.

Once in Victoria County, the deputies, now aided by Victoria County sheriff’s deputies, were able to stop one of the pickups after it pulled over about 2 miles south of a gas station, formerly known as Chubby’s, on U.S. 77, Gonzales said.

Two migrants were detained, and one eluded custody after running into nearby brush, according to a Victoria County Sheriff’s Office news release on Monday.

A second pickup was stopped on the same highway after a short pursuit. From that pickup, all five immigrants who authorities said were in the country illegally were detained, and the driver was arrested. All the pickup’s occupants were apprehended, according to the news release.

Gonzales said the third vehicle escaped deputies.

Six migrants were detained by Refugio County deputies in Refugio County, Gonzales said.

According to a Victoria County Sheriff’s Office news release, five migrants from Mexico and Honduras were detained by Victoria deputies and handed over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

According to the news release, the driver of one of the vehicles, Jose Enrique Hernandez Lopez, 27, was arrested and charged on suspicion of evading arrest in a vehicle and trafficking in humans.

He was arrested about 5:30 p.m. Monday, according to jail records.

Tuesday afternoon, Victoria County Sheriff Justin Marr said he was not able to confirm whether the two arrested were connected to the pursuits.

Gabriel Hernandez Lopez, 28, of Mexico, was charged with smuggling of persons, according to a Tuesday sheriff’s news release. According to jail records, he was arrested about the same time as Jose Lopez.

Gonzales said it is likely the driver of the pickup that Refugio deputies helped with escaped.

Authorities were tipped off to the vehicles by a citizen who called the sheriff’s office after seeing people jumping into the back of two pickup trucks, according to a Tuesday news release from the Refugio County Sheriff’s Office.

“This is a good example of people calling when they see something,” Gonzales said. “It can really help.”

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Chase covers breaking news, crime and courts for the Advocate. He can be reached at 361-574-1286, crogers@vicad.com or at @chasedrogers on Twitter.

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Breaking News & Public Safety Reporter

Chase writes about crime and courts for the Victoria Advocate. He grew up in the Dallas–Fort Worth area before attending Texas State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication and journalism.

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