Some bystanders caught up in raids

Jon Wilcox By Jon Wilcox

May 15, 2017 at 9:06 p.m.
Updated May 16, 2017 at 6 a.m.

One Stop Tire Shop, 3509 Houston Highway, is raided by Department of Homeland Security agents and the Victoria County Sheriff's Office deputies.

One Stop Tire Shop, 3509 Houston Highway, is raided by Department of Homeland Security agents and the Victoria County Sheriff's Office deputies.   Angela Piazza for The Victoria Advocate

Victoria tire customer Orlando Cantu, 23, was waiting for tires to be mounted Friday when he suddenly saw law enforcement officers rushing toward him.

"Next thing you know, we hear beating on the window," said Cantu. "They started yelling, 'Get out of the truck. Get on the ground.'"

Cantu was released after he was detained for at least half an hour in handcuffs during one of four simultaneous raids conducted at 2 p.m. Friday, he said.

Two locations of One Stop Tire Shop and two residences were searched by peace officers led by the Victoria County Sheriff's Office. Investigators made nine arrests, found 4 pounds of cocaine with an estimated value of $60,000 and seized $50,000 in cash as well as 10 cars and about 400 tires.

After investigators determined Cantu was simply "at the wrong place at the wrong time," they released him, he said.

County jail records confirm Cantu was neither charged nor arrested that day. Despite the trouble imposed on him, he said he has no hard feelings for law enforcement.

"They did a pretty professional job," he said. "They did what they had to do."

The business owner was sitting with his 4-month-old pit bull, Skyline, and one of his own customers inside a pickup parked in the driveway of One Stop Tire Shop at North Laurent Street when the raid occurred.

Cantu, who owns Cantu Racing, a high-end custom car company at 805 E. Rio Grande St., was at the raided tire shop to mount tires for a black Cadillac CTS-V, which he estimates his customer has invested more than $100,000 in.

Within about 20 seconds, about a dozen law enforcement officers descended on the tire shop, securing the location and everyone inside.

"They blocked the streets and came in all at one time in formation," he said. "They all had guns drawn."

Monday, Chief Deputy Roy Boyd, of the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, said Cantu's detainment was unfortunate but unavoidable.

"We hate to see people get tied up in the middle, but whenever people are conducting illegal operation in a business setting, sometimes that happens," he said. "We sort things out and then get people arrested or cut them loose, depending on what needs to be done."

Cantu said he has been a patron of One Stop Tire Shop for about two years because of the business's fair prices and solid quality of work.

Investigators interviewed everyone inside the business, including other customers, and searched the building and its numerous tires, Cantu said.

Although he didn't witness investigators finding any drugs or cash, he did remember them uncuffing an employee to finish repairing a customer's tire so she could leave the shop. That employee was cuffed again and arrested after completing the job, he said.

Cantu said his primary concern was that passersby might think he was being arrested for connections to the tire shop. He was advised by law enforcement officers to turn away from the busy traffic of North Laurent Street.

"It looked like I was associated with them," he said.

But Cantu said he was most pleased when investigators placed Skyline inside his pickup and turned on the air conditioning while he was detained.

"That was very nice of them," he said.

During the raids, about 300 students at Nazareth Academy were participating in a walkathon when investigators raided a residence about a block away, said Sister Evelyn Korenek, principal. Korenek said she isn't sure whether the sheriff's office should have notified the school in advance, although "it might have been nice to know." She said she didn't think any of her students were in danger as a result of the raids.

Boyd said his office considered the proximity of the school when planning the raids, but warning the school in advance could have jeopardized the operation.

"Providing advance notice to a surprise raid eliminates the element of surprise - jeopardizes not only the lives of those in the locations we are raiding but also the operators and those taking part in the surprise raids," he said.



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