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Men, women, children emerged dehydrated, tried fleeing in downtown Pearsall
Frio County sheriff’s deputies are warning the public to remain on the lookout for a number of illegal immigrants who may still be in the area after a bail-out on Monday, March 22, near downtown Pearsall.
Police say dispatchers received a call shortly before noon on Monday that a tractor-trailer rig had stopped in a parking lot on the south end of town and approximately a hundred undocumented immigrants had been seen climbing out of the freight trailer.
Pearsall police have issued a statement indicating it still is unknown why the driver, later identified as Luis DeLaCeda Gonzales, 55, decided to stop the 18-wheeler at that location and let the individuals out.
A witness was able to take video footage of the event as it unfolded and nearly 100 men, women and children are seen fleeing from the back of the truck once Gonzales opens the back doors.
Texas Highway Patrol troopers, Pearsall Police department, Pearsall ISD police and US Border Patrol agents assisted sheriff’s deputies and were able to detain 66 of the estimated 100 illegal immigrants. Many of those who fled the scene were discovered Monday afternoon wandering through residential neighborhoods.
Many of the immigrants were able to evade arrest by fleeing into the brush near the Union Pacific Railroad line. Gonzales was found in the brush behind a local electrical company storage facility a quarter mile from his tractor-trailer.
A manhunt for further fugitives involved patrol vehicles from several agencies as well as aerial surveillance.
“Human smuggling has been an ongoing issue in our county,” Lt. Joshua Longoria said. “This bail-out was a big one and involved children, who we feel may be in distress as some of the individuals were already dehydrated.”
According to a report on the case, many of the immigrants told police they were traveling to Dallas to find work.
Immigrants who were accounted for were given water by law enforcement as many showed signs of dehydration.
The undocumented immigrants were taken into Border Patrol custody and the agency will continue to investigate the incident.
“Transporting these individuals by semi-trucks is inhumane and dangerous,” Longoria said. “These smugglers see the opportunity to make more money because they can transport more people, but the conditions make it more risky than efficient.”