Amputee smuggler driving stolen truck nabbed after pursuit | Uvalde Leader News

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Pete Luna|Leader-News
A U.S. Customs and Border protection helicopter sails through the sky in pursuit of a woman driving down U.S. Highway 83 North. The driver, who was suspected of transporting immigrants illegally in a stolen truck, which also had stolen license plates, was apprehended near the Concan General Store Tuesday afternoon.

A chase that began in Brackettville on Tuesday afternoon ended in Concan, but not before before winding through streets in North Uvalde where up to seven passengers bailed out of the vehicle. The pickup, which had been reported stolen in San Antonio, also bore stolen license plates.

Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Kevin Carr said the driver, whose name is being withheld at this time while the investigation is being conducted, had a lengthy criminal history and had been involved in previous law enforcement pursuits.

She was apprehended near the Concan General Store and arrested by Joaquin Ibarra and Shaun Villanueva with the sheriff’s office, and Uvalde County Sheriff Charles Mendeke was on scene to assist in the arrest.

Carr said the license plates, reported stolen in San Antonio, were detected in Brackettville around 12:30 p.m. and the female driver refused to stop, proceeding down State Highway 334 to Highway 55 into Uvalde. Law enforcement attempted to spike the tires on the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado several times before the truck entered Uvalde.

The driver entered the north Uvalde area and dumped passengers at the intersection of Pacific Street and North Camp Street. Deputies believe the driver became confused while seeking to return to U.S. Highway 90 East towards San Antonio.

“When she went by Milam and down Antonio she got lost, she got turned around otherwise she probably would have gone through the center of town. I think what she was trying to do was get to 90, to get back to San Antonio. She spun around through there a couple of times,” Carr said.

He said a U.S. Border Patrol helicopter was utilized to help follow the driver, with law enforcement dropping back so as to encourage the driver to maintain slower speeds in hopes of avoiding a crash.

“When you go into side streets you don’t want to dog them, because you just don’t know what might happen,” Carr said. “Once they see us back off they start slowing down.”

Carr said only a woman and a 10-year-old boy, believed to have been passengers in the vehicle, were apprehended. They told deputies they had paid to be transported into the United States.

The runaway driver sped across U.S. Highway 83 North and two state police officers at the Dry Frio River bridge were able to use spike strips, which punctured all four tires. Both tires on the driver’s side were shredded, and the driver pulled into a gas station parking lot in Concan, where she initially refused to exit the vehicle until deputies removed her.

A video of the takedown of the female driver, who is missing part of one leg, can be seen on the Uvalde Leader-News page on Facebook.

“We’re lucky no one got hurt,” Carr said. “These guys don’t care. They just don’t, they’re more worried about earning their money,” he said.

He said the driver is facing five felony charges, including human smuggling, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, evading police, narcotics possession, and endangering a child. He noted the woman had previously been jailed for narcotics related charges and evading law enforcement pursuit.

jkeeble@ulnnow.com, 830-278-3335

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