Update: VCSO arrest trafficker in August 26th bailout case
From the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office official Facebook page:
“On August 26th, the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office gave notice that there was a bailout on Fleming Prairie Rd. After an intense search, one of the offenders in the case was apprehended. However, the investigation did not end with the arrest of this offender.
As a result of the ongoing investigation, Juan Luis Cruz was identified as the trafficker who was driving the vehicle loaded with suspected illegal aliens at the time of the stop. The VCSO and ICE opened a case and began working to obtain a warrant for his arrest.
On August 31st, Border Patrol Agents in Falfurrias arrested Cruz while he attempted to smuggle another load of illegal aliens north. Cruz, who was also the defendant in a human trafficking investigation in north Texas, will now be returned to Victoria to face charges.
“With the tragic killing of non-aggressive tracking dogs in Aransas County last week, and the capture of a repeat slave trafficker like Juan Cruz, we are reminded about the dangers that we face while fighting for law and order in South Texas. Smugglers like Mr. Cruz bring dangerous criminals into our communities every day. We must be ready and vigilant every day, which is what the men and women of local law enforcement are prepared to do,” says Sheriff O’Connor.
“We stand ready to do our duty and the investigation does not end with the capture or escape of the victims of modern slave traffickers. Justice knows no jurisdictional boundaries, and the men and women of the VCSO, along with our partner agencies, will not give up in their pursuit of that justice. No distance is too far when you are on the side of right. This case is just the latest example of our determination to make sure at the end of the day, the long arm of the law prevails with justice being served.”
The men and women of the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Refugio County Sheriff Gonzales and Joe Braman for their dedication to justice and offer our condolences on the loss of their tracking dogs during the recent bailouts.”
Original Story 8/27/18:
The Victoria County Sheriffs Office is investigating a bailout that happened on Sunday afternoon, where 9 people fled a vehicle on Flemming Prairie Road. Nearly 15 years ago, in the same area, 19 undocumented immigrants were found dead of dehydration after a treacherous transport across the border.
David Gibson spoke to the sheriffs and tells more.
On Sunday afternoon, a Victoria County Sheriff’s Office Deputy tried to pull over an SUV packed with nine people.
Chief Deputy Roy Boyd explained that, “Four individuals got out and engaged [the deputy] in an altercation. As that altercation took place another five individuals got out of the vehicle and were able to get away from the deputy, and fled over the fence you can see behind me.” The Deputy who was involved in the fight was unscathed, and Boyd added, “We are very fortunate that the deputy that was here and involved in the altercation was able to walk away with no injuries.” Deputies used a helicopter and tracking dogs to search for the nine individuals through the day and into late Sunday night.
One resident who lives on Flemming Prairie road said he found one of the people believed to be in the bailout handcuffed and sitting under his tree.
Boyd said that, “The individual that residents saw out here this morning was the individual that was primary in the altercation with the deputy. He had a handcuff on one wrist which was a result of the attempt to apprehend him at the initial traffic stop.” The man was later identified as Guilmor Ramirez-Interiano, and has been arrested and charged with evading arrest. The Sheriff’s Office concluded that most of the individuals in the vehicle were involved in human smuggling.
“The individuals that were in that vehicle are all most likely being involved in slave trafficking that’s coming up from Mexico into the United States,” explained Chief Deputy Boyd. He told us that investigators have been able to identify the smuggler who is primarily responsible in the transporting of these individuals.
Boyd discussed with Gibson the investigation and remarked that the VCSO, “will be working up a case with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure justice is dealt for the crimes that [traffickers] committed.” The other eight individuals that fled are presumed to have been picked up by the criminal organization overseeing the trafficking ring.
“The other individuals have been trafficked on to a more northern location from Victoria at this time,” explained the Chief Deputy.
Though the incident has caused community concern and alarm, the Sheriff’s Office believes that residents are safe at this point. However, some community members disagreed and remarked on the extra precautions they have taken. One resident said, “No, no we keep our house secure, and im a concealed handgun owner, so I feel safe.” Boyd is resolved though, and said that there is no ongoing danger to the public and added that he would like to thank both the community and other agencies for their assistance during this investigation.