Published: 11.05.2007

Chase southwest of Tucson ends in human-smuggling arrest
By Brady McCombs
A one-hour, multi-agency pursuit of a truck carrying illegal entrants that included gunfire, vehicle spikes and a helicopter came to a screeching halt a few miles east of Three Points Sunday night with the arrest of five people.
The pursuit began at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on Arizona 286 about seven miles north of the border at Sasabe, said Richard DeWitt, Border Patrol Tucson Sector spokesman. Agents tried to stop a blue 1998 Dodge truck driven by a 30-year-old Mexican man with illegal border crossers lying down in the bed.
Shortly after the agent began following the truck, the driver fired gunshots back at the agent. They didn’t strike the agent or the vehicle, DeWitt said. As the truck reached excessive speeds, the agent pulled back and radioed ahead to other agents.
Meanwhile, a helicopter flew to the area and began tracking the truck as it sped north on Arizona 286. Further north at milepost 27, agents set up vehicle spikes. The truck avoided the spikes, though, and continued north.
At milepost 40, the truck flipped a U-turn and headed south, then quickly flipped around again and started driving north.
Pima County Sheriff’s deputies arrived to help and set up vehicle spikes near Three Points, located about 20 miles southwest of Tucson. But, once again, the truck eluded them, this time cutting through the parking lot of the Three Points General Store, DeWitt said. While cutting through the parking lot, the truck tried to ram a Border Patrol agent vehicle, he said.
The truck then continued east on Arizona 86 toward Tucson. Agents again put down vehicle spikes — the third time in less than an hour — at Sandario Road. This time, they worked.
As the truck skidded to a stop at about 9:30 p.m., people in the bed starting throwing objects at an agent’s vehicle who was driving behind it, DeWitt said. They looked like rocks or other equipment, the agent said.
Agents caught the driver and four others — a woman and three men. An unknown number of other people escaped into the desert, he said.Records checks revealed the driver had been previously deported and had an extensive criminal history. Authorities are going to attempt to prosecute him for assault on a federal agent, smuggling and reentry of an aggravated felon, DeWitt said.
The four illegal border crossers were all from Mexico: a 54-year-old woman from Puebla, a 38-year-old man from Distrito Federal, a 17-year-old boy from Sonora, and a 15-year-old boy from Puebla, DeWitt said. They are being held and might be prosecuted or used as material witnesses.
The four confirmed that the driver had fired shots at the agent’s vehicle who first tried to stop them and the helicopter. Agents did not find the weapon used by the driver despite an extensive search, DeWitt said. They did find an ammunition box in the bed of the truck for .380 caliber, which could indicate a small, automatic handgun was used, DeWitt said.
No agents or illegal border crossers were injured in the events.