By Moses Leos III
The driver of an 18-wheeler is in custody after leading law enforcment on a 100-plus mile, three-hour chase that ended near FM 150 in Kyle Thursday morning.
Nine others inside of the tractor trailer were placed into Border Patrol custody. Seven of those nine were determined to be illegally present in the United States.
According to a press release, the chase began at approximately 3:40 a.m. That is when an 18-wheeler, driven by a 48-year-old man, went through a Border Patrol checkpoint outside of Freer, Texas, which is 60 miles northeast of Laredo.
Agents encountered the 18-wheeler at the primary inspection lane. While the inspection was being conducted, a K-9 service dog was alerted to the presence of narcotics or concealed persons in the trailer.
However, as agents referred the driver to a secondary inspection point, the driver refused to stop and fled "at a high rate of speed."
Border Patrol agents pursued the 18-wheeler, but the driver didn't yield to agent's emergency equipment.
According to Border Patrol Supervisor and Public Affairs officer Berin Salas, Border Patrol agents halted their pursuit as they approached Freer, Texas, which was 8 to 10 miles from the checkpoint.
"We contacted all agencies to assist. Different counties took over, and DPS was engaged," Salas said.
The Department of Public Safety led the pursuit. They, along with the help of other law enforcement agencies, chased the 18-wheeler through multiple counties along northbound Highway 16 and then IH-35.
DPS spokesperson Robbie Barrera said the driver of the 18-wheeler attempted to strike Department of Public Safety vehicles "multiple times."
It is unknown at this time how many law enforcement units were involved in the chase.
According to Barrera, the chase ended when Troopers shot at the tires of the 18-wheeler to disable the vehicle. The vehicle continued for some time until it stopped near the FM 150 and Center Street intersection at approximately 6:50 a.m.
"Fleeing from a Border Patrol checkpoint is not only against the law, it also endangers the motoring public and agents by placing them at a substantial risk. This was a collaborative effort among the law enforcement agencies and exemplifies the outstanding partnership along the South Texas border," CBP South Texas Commander Robert L. Harris said in a statement.
The driver, who had a valid Texas and Commercial Drivers License, was placed into Border Patrol custody with state and federal charges pending.
Agents also performed an immigration inspection on the nine other occupants. They determined seven were illegaly present in the country.
Salas said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is holding an investigation. HSI has taken the seven into custody.
"We are talking to all of them, in order to get all of the evidence … to charge the driver," Salas said.