Traffic stop leads to bigger investigation

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by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalists KENNETH NULL & DATHAN HULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 5:36 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 21 at 11:21 AM

TRAVIS COUNTY -- A traffic stop has turned into a larger investigation after authorities found 13 passengers crammed into a pickup truck.

The Department of Public Safety, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Border Patrol and the Austin Police Department are involved in the investigation.
 
According to DPS Trooper Robbie Barrera, around 12:30 a.m. Thursday on I-35 near SH 45, a trooper noticed a driver in a Ford double cab who didn’t use a turn signal to change lanes and had a defective license plate lamp light.
 
Barrera says the driver pulled over and parked on the shoulder of the highway, but then jumped out and ran away, along with a front seat passenger.
 
Troopers soon realized there were 13 more passengers in the bed of the truck. Barrera says some of them were concealed and some were not. DPS is investigating whether any of them are here illegally. Investigators are also trying to see if any of them were in the truck against their will.
 
After agents and troopers questioned everyone on the side of the highway, they loaded them into a Border Patrol van and drove away.
 
Barrera says if any of the passengers are here legally, then they've done nothing wrong, explaining that it is not illegal in Texas to ride in the bed of a truck. However, if they're here illegally, then Barrera says Border Patrol will process them and transport them back to their native countries.
 
Officials eventually caught the passenger of the truck and charged him with evading arrest. They are still searching for the driver. Barrera says the group was coming from San Antonio.
 
Investigators say no weapons were found, and no injuries were reported.

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