AUSTIN (KXAN) - After tracking a vehicle suspected of assisting truck thefts for the purpose of human smuggling, police arrested two people they said were doing just that.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Juan Tovar Torrez, 30, and Oscar Hernandez-Villanueva, 18, were driving a black Denali involved in previous vehicle thefts. The Denali parked a few spaces down from a red truck at the Texas Department of Transportation office located off North Interstate 35 when police saw Tovar exit the Denali and break into the truck.
The document states that the Denali and the stolen truck left the TxDOT parking lot, and drove south on U.S. Highway 183 until they stopped at an intersection of FM 937 and FM 812. There, a green van joined them, dropping off two unidentified men who entered the stolen truck, according to the document.
Tovar, who is accused of stealing the truck, climbed back in the Denali with Hernandez-Villanueva and drove in the opposite direction of the stolen vehicle, the arrest affidavit said.
The Denali was later pulled over at a convenience store, where both men were arrested and later charged with engaging in organized crime, according to the affidavit.
Other APD officers continued to follow the stolen truck until its occupants noticed the surveillance and drove through a barbed-wire fence and into the brush of a ranch. Neither occupant was apprehended.
In an interview with APD, Hernandez-Villanueva waived his right to speak in order to admit that participated in the theft of the truck and confessed to have driven the stolen truck at some point, the arrest document said.
Police said trucks stolen for the purpose of human smuggling are typically stolen from parking lots and driven to south Texas where recently trafficked immigrants are picked up along the border and then driven back to the Austin area. Afterwards the immigrants are kept in stash houses before being moved to their final destinations.
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