Police chase turns into illegal immigrant bust

May 18, 2010 3:58:31 PM PDT
What started out as a police chase Tuesday in Fort Bend County turned into a bust of alleged smuggled illegal immigrants. Eyewitnesses described a wild scene in Fort Bend County where more than a dozen people made a run for it at the end of a police chase.

The chase started around 12:30pm Tuesday in Stafford and ended a few minutes later when about 15 people scattered from one small pickup truck. SkyEye HD was the only one over the scene as those men were being rounded up.

The truck actually belonged to a retired Houston police officer. Scott Bumgardner told us the reason he bought a bright yellow pickup truck was so that he could pick it out of a crowd. That's exactly what he did Tuesday when he saw his own stolen truck being driven down Highway 59 and called Fort Bend County police. He never would have guessed that police would have broken up what they believe to be an illegal smuggling ring.

The arrests happened in Stafford off Highway 90A. Fifteen men were taken into custody, a peaceful end to a short but wild ride through Fort Bend County including Sugar Land and Stafford. It was near Avenue E in Stafford where police say the stolen yellow truck drove into heavy traffic and was forced to slow down. That's when police say the men inside jumped out and scattered.

The chase caught Paul Fain's eye.

"We saw the officer running this way," said Fain. "In fact, there was a police car near the apartment in the back and it just looked like they were trying to follow someone and catch them before they got away."

A few minutes later, as Fain left his home, he saw the suspects arrested and sitting on the ground.

"I'm glad it was a peaceful resolution -- apparently no one was injured," Fain said.

Authorities say it was a retired Houston police officer who first reported seeing his own stolen truck traveling on 59 at Crabbe River Road. Sugar Land police say the truck began to speed up after refusing to pull over, creating a dangerous situation.

"Given the fact that the vehicle would not stop, likely traveling at a high rate of speed, placing both the occupants of the truck and citizens at risk, it was a dangerous situation," said Doug Adolph, a Sugar Land police spokesperson.

Authorities say the men who were arrested were undocumented immigrants, and even though Sugar Land police made the arrest, the suspects have been turned over to federal authorities. No injuries were reported.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement will transport them to a federal detention facility sometime Tuesday evening.

Charges have not yet been filed, and feds say the possibility exists that this was an illegal smuggling ring.


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