Victoria County deputies continued their search for several men suspected of abandoning a pickup after leading authorities on a pursuit Wednesday evening, authorities said.
Thursday, deputies deployed a drone to search a thick area of brush south of Victoria, finding a pickup there about 5 p.m. that was thought to have been involved in a chase, said Victoria County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Roy Boyd.
Authorities lost that truck for about a day after its occupants led police and deputies on a pursuit that began near Telferner, he said.
About 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, Victoria police officers identified a white Toyota pickup on U.S. 59 as stolen from the Houston area and attempted to stop it, Boyd said.
After disregarding the traffic stop, the pickup’s driver sped toward Victoria, taking U.S. 59 around the southern edge of the city before turning onto U.S. 77 toward Refugio.
Boyd said deputies in the area quickly joined police in the chase.
The truck then turned onto Fleming Prairie Road, negotiated numerous sharp turns and was lost after barreling into a pasture of thick huisache.
Searchers followed the truck’s tire tracks into the brush but were unable to locate the vehicle or its occupants despite establishing a perimeter around the area.
By about 10 p.m., they had stopped their search efforts.
Thursday morning, two pickups parked at homes in the area were reported stolen, leading Boyd to suspect the men may have fled in those trucks, leaving the Toyota behind.
Boyd said his decades in law enforcement led him to suspect that the men who fled from authorities were involved in human smuggling. He said human smugglers often steal vehicles to stash for later use.
“It was probably a group of coyotes,” he said.
To those living in rural Crossroads areas, Boyd emphasized the need to stay vigilant.
No matter how isolated a home may feel, residents should never leave keys in vehicles’ ignitions, he said. They also should lock their doors and notify law enforcement if a theft is underway.
“No (property) is worth the possibility of losing your life over,” Boyd said.