Authorities in San Patricio County captured 20 undocumented immigrants following a police chase Thursday, but say 22 others are still on the loose.
It all started when a federal agent noticed two suspicious pickup trucks believed to be working in tandem. The trucks had temporary tags out of the Houston area.
One of the trucks bailed out in Portland, and the immigrants were never found. The other kept going toward Gregory. Police chased that truck, which ended up crashing near the elementary school in Gregory.
Authorities then launched a massive search, looking for the immigrants who were on the run.
"They were running. They jumped that fence on the other side of that house, and were running through the house between residences," Gregory Police Chief Jesse Garcia said. "They were caught on the ground over there or, actually, in the ditch, on that other side, between the street, but they were coming through here."
The elementary school was placed on lockdown as authorities searched for the immigrants, who were found scattered throughout the areas and neighborhoods near the elementary school. Authorities from various agencies took part in the search.
Some of the immigrants were treated by EMS on scene and taken to the hospital. Numerous immigrants were found and apprehended. In one case, two of them were found literally hiding underneath a home.
Police also caught the coyote, the term used to describe a person who smuggles immigrants into the country, in some brush by U.S. 181.
"That individual ran from the other side of the highway, southbound, this way, chased by one of the deputies and myself, DPS troopers and federal agents in the Sheriff's Office. We were able to catch him right here," Garcia said. "I spoke to him and he told me he was from the Mission area, and these individuals, these illegal aliens, they told me that some of them were going to Los Angeles. Some of them were going to New York. They were supposed to be in the Houston area."
Chief Garcia said the immigrants were from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
It was quite a dramatic scene, and some nearby residents locked their doors while all of it was going on. Others were out looking for the immigrants. One nearby priest said he witnessed the pursuit as mass was getting out Thursday morning.
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