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Thursday, July 08, 2004

KGBT 4 - TV Harlingen, TX: City Starting Task Force

KGBT 4 - TV Harlingen, TX: City Starting Task Force

Reported By Roxanne Lerma

JULY 7, 2004 - A high speed chase tore through the city of La Joya, late Tuesday night.

The scene plays out all too often in western Hidalgo County.

"Over and over again. It's a very common occurrence here in La Joya," said La Joya Police Chief, Isidro Casanova.

Once again, an accused illegal alien smuggler was behind the wheel..

"I was scared and that's why I ran, " exclaimed Alberto Paz, the accused suspect.

When it was all over, the pursuit ended with Paz and three other immigrants in custody. One was hiding in the trunk.

"I had a job in construction, but I gave it up because my friends asked me to try and get them from Starr County to McAllen," said Paz.

Chief Casanova says the run-ins with smugglers are stretching his resources. The expressway in La Joya has become a major pipeline for immigrant traffickers. Two, even three times a week officers are involved in a pursuit, and immigrant traffic stops happen daily.

Casanova says, "this is just a very small amount of illegal activity that we're catching compared to what is actually going through!"

Chief Casanova says the situation has gotten so bad, that he is considering partnering up with U.S. Border Patrol to begin some sort of joint task force to stem the flow of illegal crossings.

"It's getting to be a real headache for us," claimed Casanova. "It's a real big problem that we're having now and we need to come up with some kind of structure that we can use to try and deter this problem."

Casanova is still trying to iron out the details, but Paz says they need to come up with a plan quickly.

Paz said, "that's our job-- to run from the law."

Paz was arraigned late Wednesday on charges of evading arrest. He will now be transported to Border Patrol to face federal smuggling charges.

The other three immigrants were deported back to Mexico.

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