“It was riding low,” Treviño said. Much lower than a vehicle of that size should have ridden with a normal cargo load.
Over the years, Treviño has earned a reputation for his ability to spot vehicles with illegal cargo. This time, the deputy hit the mother load.
When he finally got the vehicle stopped, Treviño found nine taped up bundles with makeshift carrying straps, all packed tightly with marijuana.
In all, Sheriff Carlos Carrizales Jr. said lawmen discovered 547.1 pounds of the illegal weed. It was one of the largest hauls of illegal drugs here in some time.
Treviño said the Tahoe proceeded east on U.S. Highway 59 and started to follow. When the Tahoe approached the entrance to the Texas A&M Agrilife Research and Extension Center, Treviño turned on his overhead lights and made a traffic stop.
“It didn’t have a front license plate,” the deputy said.
Then what happened was typical of a vehicle loaded with Mexican nationals in the country illegally.
As a dozen humans bolted from the vehicle, the driver left the Tahoe’s transmission in “drive” and jumped clear himself.
“That’s a tactic they use,” Carrizales said. It forces the officer making the stop to get to the moving vehicle in order to stop it before it becomes a traffic hazard. Meanwhile, the occupants had a chance to get a running start for the brush.
Deputies and members of the Beeville Police Department responded to Treviño’s call, and within seconds, they were combing the area northeast of Beeville and U.S. Highway 59.
“We got three of them and the driver,” said Deputy Lt. John Davis. He added that all four of those nabbed were facing charges of delivery of marijuana, more than 500 pounds.
Those arrested are facing some serious jail time. Although none of those apprehended had been formally charged or taken before a judge to have their bail set by Monday afternoon, they could all wind up in district court facing 99 years to life in prison and a $10,000 fine if they ultimately are found guilty of a first degree felony.
Davis said the sheriff’s office was not releasing any of the suspects’ names because the incident still was under investigation, and no formal charges had been filed.
Carrizales and Chief Deputy Alden Southmayd said Davis, Deputy Lt. Ronnie Jones, Deputy Sgt. Brandon Burdick and Deputies John Billman, Simon Moya and J.D. Aguirre joined BPD officers in a search for the remainder of the illegal immigrants who had scattered into the countryside.
Lt. Kenneth Jefferson, Sgt. Jason Alvarez, Field Training Officer Jonell Cisneros and Patrolmen Christopher Holler and Garrett Davidson joined in the pursuit.
Additional information could be released after deputies complete their investigation.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.