16-year-old among 5 undocumented people in custody after running from police in Hedwig Village

Pooja Lodhia Image
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Hungry teen among group of undocumented people in custody after chase
Five undocumented people are in custody after leading Hedwig Village police on a chase and were told not to stop for authorities, investigators said.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Five undocumented people have been taken into custody after a police chase through Hedwig Village on Wednesday.

Eyewitness News was there as a 16-year-old was taken into custody.

He was crying as he was led to the patrol car.

Police said the teenager came to the United States without his parents and hadn't eaten in six days.

"He's pretty shaken up. He's hungry, and he's wet. His clothes are wet," Hedwig Village Sgt. Steve Packard said. "All their clothes are wet and muddy."

Hedwig Village police said they tried to pull over a van with fake license plates going eastbound on the I-10 feeder at about 11 a.m.

Investigators said the driver led them on a chase through neighborhoods until finally stopping at a cul-de-sac.

Everybody in the van ran out.

"I see one car. It's five, seven people. They open the door, and everybody running for the house. (In come) the police, drone, everything," Alvin Pena, who was working nearby, said.

"It goes back to this day and time," Stacy Williams, who also works nearby, said. "You don't know if they've been forced to be brought into that."

"These folks were not armed. They didn't have any drugs. They just tried to get here to try and find a job," Packard said. "They were told not to stop by the police by whoever was in charge. They said they were hungry and coming here for work. They were driven here by a coyote."

At least one person got away from the police after the chase.

Police took five people into custody, including the driver, who they believe could be a coyote, a word for someone who smuggled the rest here for a fee.

Police say the 16-year-old will not be criminally charged. He will be taken to CPS custody, and the four adults have been charged with evading and will be taken to the Harris County Jail.

There are several options from there, immigration attorney Susham Modi said.

"Are they afraid to go back to their home country? Would they file for asylum? And there are even more scenarios, like what if any of the individuals in the van had a prior removal order? That circumstance, they may get quickly removed," he explained.

Police said the five people had just come to the country a day or two ago from Mexico and Central America.

For more on this story, follow Pooja Lodhia on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram.