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News

December 12, 2017

JP signs warrants for court dodgers

By Marc Robertson
La Salle County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez is signing arrest warrants this week for ten individuals who have failed to make court appearances on a variety of charges or who have failed to meet their obligations.

Those for whom warrants are signed will be subject to immediate arrest at home, at work or during the course of traffic stops id they are identified by a law enforcement officer. All are required to make immediate appearances at the judge's court on Center Street in downtown Cotulla and have forfeited the right to make arrangements by telephone. A telephone call does not constitute a court appearance.

Failure to appear in court may result in additional misdemeanor charges being filed. 

Arrest warrants are being signed for the following:

Cody Lane Aguilar, 27, of Lytle, Texas; failure to maintain financial responsibility, speeding.

Yajaira Ivette Banda, 36, of San Antonio; driving while license is not valid, failure to maintain financial responsibility.

Omar Dario Cuellar, 36, of Zapata, Texas; public intoxication.

Carolina Gonzales, 35, of Cotulla; failure to appear in court, driving while license is suspended or not valid.

Juan Francisco Guerrero, 38, of Brownsville, Texas; violating a promise to appear in court, driving without a license, speeding.

Julio Cesar Montoya, 45, of Austin; violating a promise to appear in court, failure to maintain financial responsibility, driving without a license.

Shannon Elise Novak, 31, of San Antonio; speeding.

Ruben Lira, 35, of Cotulla; driving with an expired motor vehicle inspection certificate, driving with expired vehicle registration, failure to maintain financial responsibility, speeding.

Robert Edward Rodriguez, 45, of Cotulla; driving with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.

Oscar Trevino Jr., 41, of Cotulla; driving with expired vehicle registration, failure to maintain financial responsibility.

December 11, 2017

Six arrests,
​Dec. 4-11

By Marc Robertson
Six individuals were taken into custody in La Salle County last week on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges as well as on warrants for failing to meet court obligations.

Arrests were made by sheriff’s deputies and officers of the Cotulla Patrol Division, by the Encinal Police Department, and by troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Those taken into custody between Monday, December 4, and Monday, Dec. 11, in addition to those being held for other jurisdictions, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, are as follows:

Adolfo Campos III, 31, of Encinal; arrested 7:50 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, by the Encinal PD; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury, Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; released on bond after one day, 15 hours.

Bobbie James Williams, 61, of Wichita Falls, Texas; arrested 2:46 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony injury to a child, disabled or elderly person by criminal negligence; released on bond after one day, 20 hours.

Rafael Gutierrez Jr., 27, of Cotulla; arrested 12:36 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving while license is not valid; released after ten hours on promise to pay fines.

Luis Salazar Jr., 54, of Cotulla; arrested 6:22 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; remains in jail as of Dec. 11.

Juan Jose Hinojosa, 53, of San Antonio; arrested 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, by the Cotulla City Patrol; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after 19 hours.

Alexis Marie Ruiz, 22, of Dilley; arrested 3:55 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, by the Texas DPS; Class A misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after 11 hours.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Rodolfo Valentin Garcia, released on bond after 46 days, 22 hours; Ossiel Everardo Salinas, released on bond after 29 days, 23 hours; and Stephen Ray Martinez, released on bond after one day, 18 hours.

December 5, 2017

Victims included local residents...

'Re-shipping' job is scam with stolen cards, investigator says

People answering ads for extra holiday money were "unwitting pawns in a theft ring"

By Marc Robertson
Advertisements for lucrative work-from-home positions or extra cash for the holiday season may have lured one or more La Salle County residents into signing up for jobs in re-shipping goods bought with stolen credit card numbers, according to the sheriff’s office, and the theft victims themselves may have been local.

In a report on the case Tuesday afternoon, December 5, La Salle Sheriff’s Investigator Homar Olivarez said he believes a number of people may have been tempted to answer email or social media advertisements that offered payment to anyone who would take delivery of retail goods, examine them to ensure they were properly packaged and unbroken or that they met their shipping descriptions, and then send them on to their final destination with new shipping labels.

“The job seemed easy and appeared legitimate to anyone who answered the advertisement,” Olivarez said. “And, sure enough, the people who signed up to do this began receiving goods. These were relatively expensive items.”

The items were delivered to addresses in La Salle County, inspected by the “re-shipping employees” and then dispatched with new shipping labels via national carriers to the apparent buyers, most of whom were overseas.

What the people handling the goods cannot have known, according to Olivarez, was that the retail items had been bought with stolen credit cards and that any investigation into card fraud would lead to them, not to the overseas buyers.

What they would also not have known, the investigator said, was that the credit card numbers used for the fraudulent purchases had themselves been stolen in South Texas, specifically from La Salle County residents.

“This investigation began as a credit card theft case,’ Olivarez said. “We were notified by some local residents that their card numbers had been stolen or that card security had been compromised, and that fraudulent retail purchases had been made.

“When we looked into this, we discovered that the purchases had been shipped to an address here in Cotulla,” the investigator said. “So we approached this case as a matter of someone using stolen credit cards to go shopping.”

The investigation, however, revealed a far more complex scheme and in fact included more victims, Olivarez said.

“When we interviewed a person who appeared to have received goods that were paid for with stolen credit cards, that person showed us how this was presented as an employment opportunity, working at home for extra income,” Olivarez said. “And clearly that person was completely unaware that the goods were purchased with stolen card numbers.

“Thankfully for us, and for the person who was receiving and re-sending these goods, saving every email message and taking note of every detail in this scheme helped our investigation immeasurably,” Olivarez added. “It also helped to show the extent of the fraud and demonstrated that the culprit in this case was not local.”

The investigator said that those who answered the advertisement for employment as re-shipping agents would receive the pre-printed shipping labels to send the items to their next destinations and would also receive promises of payment for their work.

Those payments never came, and after approximately a month the so-called employer would stop sending emails and would not respond to inquiries. The employer would also stop having goods shipped to the local address.

“Those people who thought they were going to earn extra income for the holidays, just by re-shipping some retail goods, were unwitting pawns in a theft ring,” Olivarez said. “It’s difficult to come to grips with the reality that this was not a local credit card theft, but that this was something much deeper and more complex.”

The investigator noted that law enforcement investigations into stolen credit card numbers often reveal that banking details can be sorted by region, so that anyone perpetrating a fraud scheme may purchase credit card numbers in bulk, specific to a certain area. In this case, Olivarez said, someone appears to have targeted La Salle County and is making purchases with local residents’ cards. Advertisements for jobs in re-shipping are then floated on the internet or sent in mass emails, and in La Salle County the scheme appears to have met with some success.

“What we need people to be aware of is the old adage that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is,” the investigator said. “We also hope that everyone remains vigilant at all times – not just in the holiday season – and keeps a watchful eye over bank and credit card statements. It’s very important to report any fraudulent activity immediately.”  
  

December 4, 2017

13 arrests,
Nov. 27 - 
​Dec. 4

By Marc Robertson
Thirteen individuals were taken into custody in La Salle County over the past week, with arrests made by sheriff’s deputies, Texas Rangers and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Those taken into custody on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges as well as on outstanding warrants, in addition to those being held for other jurisdictions, between Monday, November 27, and Monday, December 4, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail in Cotulla, are as follows:

Robert T. Villarreal, 43, of San Antonio; arrested 3:54 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor disorderly conduct; released after 12 hours.

Antonio Zarzosa, 41, of Cotulla; arrested 5:52 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; commitment; released after one day, one hour.

Beatrice Marie Hernandez, 34, of Cotulla; arrested 7:42 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor tampering with a government record; released on bond after four hours.

Yvette Marie Martinez, 40, of Cotulla; arrested 5:04 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, by the Texas Rangers; Class A misdemeanor tampering with a government record; released on bond after two hours.

Gerardo Arturo Cabello, 42, of Laredo; arrested 11:46 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after 13 hours.

Elvira Elsa Gonzalez, 31, of Gardendale; arrested 12:59 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County and by Justice of the Peace for two counts of failure to comply with a court order or to appear in court, driving without a license, and traveling with an unrestrained child under age 17; released after 11 hours on promise to pay fines.

Jeremy Jesus Teneyuca, 26, of Cotulla; arrested 1:09 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet court obligations on charges of driving without a license and failing to maintain financial responsibility; released after nine hours on promise to pay fines.

Jonah Matthew Gonzales, 31, of San Antonio; arrested 2:19 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after ten hours.

Carlos Mario Gonzalez, 34, of San Antonio; arrested 3:13 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after 14 hours.

Martin Morales, 48, of Cotulla; arrested 10:11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County and by Justice of the Peace on three counts of failure to appear in court or violating a promise to appear, and interfering with railroad property; court-ordered release after 20 hours.

Christopher John Pineda, 38, of Laredo; arrested 1:45 a.m. Monday, Dec. 4, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Webb County for child neglect; remains in jail as of Dec. 5.

Stephen Ray Martinez, 19, of Dilley; arrested 4:27 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4, by the Texas Rangers; second-degree felony indecency with a child by sexual contact; remains in jail as of Dec. 5.

Jose Onesimo Luna, 52, of Pearsall; arrested 4:25 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is suspended or nor valid with a previous conviction; remains in jail as of Dec. 5.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Edward Acuna, court-ordered release after 28 days, five hours; Amy Garcia Gonzalez, released on bond after five days, 15 hours; and Misael Anguiano, released on bond after one day, six hours.  

November 30, 2017

Sheriff's staff attend training conference in SA

Attendees at the 15th annual administrative assistants’ conference of the Sheriff’s Association of Texas, San Antonio, November 27-30
Representing the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office, Norma Miranda and Amanda Carbajal have returned from attending the 15th annual training conference for sheriff’s administrative assistants in Texas, covering a range of topics related to improving their service.

Miranda is the administrative assistant and Carbajal is the administrative clerk to La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez and the county’s law enforcement agency.

The Sheriff’s Association of Texas hosted the conference for administrative personnel from sheriff’s offices across the state for four days in late November at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown San Antonio. Each year, the conference provides attendees with critical training on topics that affect the duties and responsibilities of sheriff’s offices. Attendees also have the opportunity to make contact with their peers from across the state and discuss issues faced by their respective law enforcement agencies.

More than 120 people attended the event this year and received training and information on a variety of topics that included communication effectiveness, organization, an agency overview from the Office of the Attorney General, the benefits of social media, employment law, and open records requests.

The Sheriff’s Association of Texas is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of local law enforcement in the state. Through the support of its members, the association provides training, legal and technical information, and other resources vital to law enforcement personnel. The association also offers scholarships to peace officers and their children who wish to continue their education. In addition, the association honors fallen officers with its Lost Lawman Memorial.

For information on the Sheriff’s Association of Texas or to join the organization that supports the state’s law enforcement agencies, visit www.txsheriffs.org or call (512) 445-5888.
  

November 30, 2017

Five hundred were summoned...

Judge orders community service for jury duty skippers

"The wheels of justice stop" when citizens fail to answer the call,
district attorney says

By Marc Robertson
  
District Judge Russell Wilson offered a choice between eight hours of community service and criminal prosecution for dozens of La Salle County residents on Thursday, November 30, after they skipped jury duty or failed to provide adequate excuses for not serving.

By Thursday afternoon, a total of 41 local citizens had agreed to perform community service between now and mid-January. Hundreds, however, may face contempt charges after they failed to put in court appearances when summoned.

The 218th District Court judge’s decision came after the La Salle County & District Clerk’s Office mailed 500 jury summons for a court date in early November. According to court officers, a mere 70 reported for jury duty, and only 44 of those were eventually deemed suitable as jurors for a trial. Judge Wilson ordered summons to be mailed immediately to all those who had failed to appear.

The numbers indicate that as many as 390 La Salle County residents are now wanted in court to answer to Judge Wilson and explain why they failed to appear for jury selection and why they then failed to appear when summoned to explain their absence. Staff at the County & District Clerk’s Office said late Thursday that they believe a number of jury summons were undeliverable and that some of those who were called may be ineligible for service.

Staff member Arturo Carbajal estimates that at least one hundred La Salle County residents remain unaccounted for and should have made court appearances on Thursday.

Prosecutors for the 81st Judicial District include Assistant District Attorney Leslie Carranza, who said Thursday that she believes the judge’s decision will encourage more people to respond to jury summons in future.

For her part, District Attorney Audrey Louis said she believes that serving on a jury is a vital duty of every citizen to ensure the maintenance of law and order.

“While many may view a jury summons as an inconvenient burden, it’s easy to forget how important jury service is,” the district attorney wrote last week in a prepared statement. “Crimes are committed, law enforcement investigates, a grand jury indicts, but only a jury can determine the guilt or innocence of someone charged with a crime.”

DA Louis also noted that failure by local citizens to appear for jury duty when summoned has far-reaching effects in the law enforcement, judicial and government systems, including expense of public monies.

“Countless hours are spent by both sides preparing for trial; witnesses are subpoenaed and their lives put on hold to come testify,” the district attorney wrote. “When we do not have enough jurors, all of that taxpayer money and time is wasted, and the wheels of justice stop. 

“It may be a child that’s prepared to testify about how they were molested, or a business owner that’s had money stolen from them by an employee… now those victims have to wait in hopes that next time, enough people take their service seriously and appear,” DA Louis added. “Justice depends on both the quality and quantity of jurors who serve. We must have enough people, and those people must take their oath to serve seriously. We all owe it to our fellow citizens to take jury service seriously. My hope is, this will remind people of that.”  

November 28, 2017

Area firefighters summoned
to railroad wreck

Investigation underway after fiery train crash with tanker

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation into the causes of a November 28 crash between a northbound Union Pacific freight train and an 18-wheel tanker truck at a grade crossing near Dilley, an incident that resulted in thousands of gallons of crude oil burning.

Emergency responders from the La Salle County Fire Rescue & EMS were dispatched to the scene at the Ledwig Ranch entrance near the Frio County line shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday and were joined by volunteer firefighters from Dilley in battling the blaze that had ensued when the freight train had collided with the truck that had been crossing the tracks from the private ranch road.

The grade crossing is not equipped with barricades; heavy vehicles including tankers, freighters and buses are required to stop and watch for trains before proceeding over the railroad line.

The northbound train on the single-track mainline between Laredo and San Antonio included a string of cars carrying double-stacked shipping containers.

Sheriff’s officers investigating the crash have indicated the tanker truck was carrying 178 barrels (9,790 gallons) of crude oil from an energy industry site off Ledwig Ranch Road, which stretches east of the railroad line. All of the cargo was ignited when the train ran over the tanker and destroyed it.

The tanker truck driver was transported by ambulance to Frio Regional Hospital in Pearsall and has since been released, according to preliminary reports. There have been no reports of injuries to any of the train crew.

Providing water for the firefighters at the scene were La Salle County Commissioners Erasmo Ramirez Jr. and Noel Niavez with their respective crews; law enforcement officers at the scene included La Salle Lt. Mike Bostwick, Sgt. Rickey Galvan, Cpl. Elvira Hernandez, Deputies Jose Avila, Michael Hernandez and Cesar Villarreal, Texas Highway Patrol Sgt. JD Rodriguez, and the Union Pacific Railroad Police and regional supervisor.
Members of the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS and the Dilley Volunteer Fire Department worked together Tuesday night, November 28, in extinguishing an oil fire (Photos this page) that resulted from a crash between a freight train and a tanker truck near the Ledwig Ranch Road grade crossing.  

November 27, 2017

Eight arrests,
Nov. 20 - 27

By Marc Robertson
Eight individuals were taken into custody in La Salle County over the past week, with arrests made by sheriff’s deputies and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Those taken into custody on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges as well as on outstanding warrants, in addition to those being held for other jurisdictions, between Monday, November 20, and Monday, Nov. 27, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail in Cotulla, are as follows:

Richard Ray Twiss II, 26, of San Antonio; arrested 1:26 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failing to appear in court on a state jail felony charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle; remains in jail as of Nov. 27, on hold for the US Marshals Service.

David Flores, 52, of Cotulla; arrested 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County Court for Class A misdemeanor failure to appear in court, warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to appear in court on a charge of possession of a controlled substance, namely methamphetamine; remains in jail as of Nov. 27.

Amy Garcia Gonzalez, 35, of Cotulla; arrested 7:57 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, by the Sheriff’s Office; three counts of third-degree felony assault on a public servant, Class A misdemeanor resisting arrest, search or transport; remains in jail as of Nov. 27.

Willie Ray Thomas Jr., 31, of San Antonio; arrested 11:47 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid, with a previous conviction; released on bond after 15 hours.

Chris Romero, 48, of Austin; arrested 12:58 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid, with a previous conviction, failing to maintain financial responsibility; released on bond after one day, 15 hours.

Juan Jesus Campos, 41, of Encinal; arrested 1:10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 23, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after 16 hours.

Jose Guadalupe Castillo, 42, of Laredo; arrested 2:09 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County Court for failure to appear in court on a charge of giving false or fictitious identification; released on bond after two hours.

Misael Anguiano, 34, of Palmer, Texas; arrested 8:58 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Dallas County for failure to pay child support; remains in jail as of Nov. 27.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Elisema Rivera Jones, released on bond after 67 days, 13 hours; Jack Daniel Coleman, released on bond after 29 days, 19 hours; Eric Scott Rivera, released on bond after 28 days, one hour; Jiovanni Rodriguez, released on bond after 26 days, 21 hours; Edward Acuna, court-ordered release after 28 days, five hours; Salome Ruiz Jr., released from custody after four days, one hour; Patrick Thomas Solansky, transferred after one day; and Juan Ramiro Sosa, released on bond after five days, 18 hours.
  

November 20, 2017

Ten arrests,
Nov. 13 - 20

By Marc Robertson
Ten people were taken into custody in La Salle County over the past week, according to the Sheriff’s Office, with arrests made by deputies, officers of the Cotulla City Patrol, and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, on a range of misdemeanor and felony charges as well as on local warrants for failure to meet court obligations.

Those arrested between Monday, November 13, and Monday, Nov. 20, in addition to those being held for other jurisdictions, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, are as follows:

Jabriel Olivarez, 33, of Cotulla; arrested 6:15 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle District Court for two counts of probation violation on charges of possession of a controlled substance, namely cocaine; remains in jail as of Nov. 20.

Euvence Saldivar Jr., 52, of Cotulla; arrested 11:10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued on failure to appear in court on a charge of driving while intoxicated; released on bond after five hours.

Martin A. Hinojosa III, 37, of Alice, Texas; arrested 9:58 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to appear in court on a charge of driving while license is not valid; released on bond after 21 hours.

Maricela Marie Abundis, 19, of Austin; arrested 11:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; disorderly conduct; released on bond after 11 hours.

Heligio Ramirez Jr., 31, of Cotulla; arrested 1:40 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; released on bond after one day, one hour.

Marcus Ramos, 51, of Cotulla; arrested 3:20 a.m. Sunday. Nov. 19, by the Cotulla City Patrol; Class B misdemeanor theft, and warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for Class B misdemeanor theft; released on bond after ten hours.

Salome Ruiz Jr., 47, of Cotulla; arrested 11:59 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving with an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle; remains in jail as of Nov. 20.

Patrick Thomas Solansky, 30, of Refugio, Texas; arrested 10:05 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by the US Marshals Service for probation violation; transferred after one day.

Katherine Kane, 29, of Corpus Christi; arrested 10:08 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; remains in jail as of Nov. 20.

Juan Ramiro Sosa, 42, of Cotulla; arrested 12:41 a.m. Monday, Nov. 20; warrant issued in La Salle County for driving while license is suspended, warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for driving while license is not valid and three counts of violating a promise to appear in court or failing to comply with a court order; remains in jail as of Nov. 20.  

November 13, 2017

Five arrests,
Nov. 6 - 13

By Marc Robertson
Five people were taken into custody in La Salle County over the past week, according to the Sheriff’s Office, with arrests made by deputies, officers of the Encinal Police Department, and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, on a range of misdemeanor and felony charges as well as on local warrants for failure to meet court obligations.

Those arrested between Monday, November 6, and Monday, Nov. 13, in addition to those being held for other jurisdictions, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, are as follows:

Ossiel Everardo Salinas, 39, of Austin; arrested 8:59 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; remains in jail as of Monday, Nov. 13.

Ruben Rolando Muniz, 39, of San Antonio; arrested 10:50 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, by the Encinal PD; third-degree felony assault on a public servant, third-degree felony evading arrest or detention in a motor vehicle; Class A misdemeanor evading arrest or detention, on hold for the US Border Patrol; remains in jail as of Monday, Nov. 13.

Eric Casey Brown, 37, of Fayette, Texas; arrested 11:02 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after ten hours.

Isabel Laguna, 38, of Cotulla; arrested 10:18 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to comply with a court order or to appear in court, two counts of driving while license is not valid, two counts of failing to maintain financial responsibility, and displaying an expired license plate; court-ordered release after 13 hours.

Miguel Angel Rodriguez, 23, of Laredo; arrested 12:44 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for driving with expired license plate or registration and failing to maintain financial responsibility; court-ordered release after seven hours.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Jesus Orlando Ortiz Jr., transferred after 104 days, 18 hours; Basilio Plaza Jr., transferred after 39 days, three hours; Cynthia Elizabeth Mata, court-ordered release after 16 days, three hours; Ricardo Soto, released on bond after 20 hours; and Jose Alfredo Garcia, released on bond after 17 hours. 

November 7, 2017

Five passengers stacked in small truck...

Pursuits end with immigrant arrests

By Marc Robertson
La Salle County sheriff’s deputies joined forces with the Encinal Police Department and the US Border Patrol on Tuesday evening, November 7, in pursuing a pair of northbound vehicles towards Cotulla and arresting at least seven undocumented immigrants.

An American citizen has also been taken into custody and may face federal charges of human smuggling. The San Antonio resident is believed to have been the driver of a vehicle in which five Mexican men had been concealed.

A report from investigators shows that Encinal Police Officer William Butterfield spotted a sedan and a small pickup truck traveling north on IH-35 near milemarker 46 shortly before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and that they appeared to be traveling in tandem. Both vehicles bore paper license plates. The police officer traveled behind the pair for a short distance and noted that the driver of the forward vehicle committed a traffic violation. Ofc. Butterfield attempted to effect a traffic stop but the driver of the Ford Taurus accelerated in an attempt to evade police.

The officer reported that the sedan was traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour at times during the pursuit.  

The report shows that Ofc. Butterfield notified the sheriff’s office that the second vehicle – a compact Mazda pickup truck – had continued traveling north towards Cotulla and that he was in pursuit of the Taurus. The driver of the sedan further attempted to evade the officer by crossing to the IH-35 access road before plowing the car into a ranch fence.

Ofc. Butterfield reported that he opened the trunk of the Taurus to find that it contained two undocumented immigrants. He also reported that the driver and at least one passenger fled the scene of the crash. The sedan was impounded by the Encinal PD.

Anticipating the arrival of the Mazda pickup truck at Cotulla, sheriff’s deputies were positioned south of the Nueces River bridge when they identified the vehicle near milemarker 59. Officers included Deputies Enrique Velez, Juan Mirelez, Miguel Limon, Jose Cardenas, Jose Avila and Investigator Homar Olivarez.

A report on the second traffic stop shows that driver Javier Campos Zamora, 54, tried to evade capture by refusing to stop after committing a traffic violation. Deputy Avila noted that the driver appeared to be traveling dangerously close to the rear of an 18-wheel freight truck.

Zamora allegedly steered the Mazda off the interstate at the FM 468 intersection and came to a halt near a truck stop. Sheriff’s deputies surrounded the vehicle and corralled the driver and three of his passengers who were attempting to flee on foot. Two further passengers had been traveling in the bed of the truck and were promptly detained.

The undocumented immigrants captured at Cotulla have been listed as Mexican nationals aged 20, 27, 31, 36 and 38. All were remanded into the custody of the US Border Patrol, whose agents also took Zamora into custody to face possible smuggling charges. The Mazda was impounded as an abandoned vehicle at the sheriff’s yard in Cotulla. 

November 7, 2017

All hands to the pumps

La Salle County firefighters are joined by the Dilley Volunteer Fire Department, the La Salle County Sheriff's Office, and the Texas Highway Patrol in responding to a house fire on Williams Street in Gardendale on Tuesday evening, November 7. The two-story family home was partially engulfed when officers first arrived at the scene at around 5:30 p.m. and Deputies Enrique Velez and Juan Mirelez forced entry into the building to determine whether any residents remained inside. Family members assured officers that the building was unoccupied. Firefighters were provided with water from La Salle County Precincts 1 and 3; reserve firefighters were also summoned to assist. Trees and landscape near the building were beginning to ignite from the intensity of the blaze, and efforts continued to prevent the possible spread of wildfires to neighboring properties. Firefighters were unable to save the structure, which was destroyed when the upper level of the home collapsed into the ground floor. Investigations continue into the possible causes of the fire.
(Courtesy photos)

November 7, 2017

"He said he just wanted to go home..."

Driver continues north despite
multiple rollover

By Marc Robertson
A senior citizen from Cotulla escaped serious injury in a vehicle rollover near Artesia Wells and continued traveling north on IH-35 Tuesday, November 7, when he discovered that his Honda would start and drive.

Identified as Marcelo Malvaez, the man reported to a La Salle County sheriff’s deputy after a traffic stop that he had been to the dentist in Laredo and that he may have fallen asleep at the wheel on his way home.

A report on the case shows that a freight truck driver notified the La Salle County emergency dispatch office that she had witnessed a multiple rollover near milemarker 46 and that the driver of the Honda CR-V appeared to have suffered no serious injury and was standing beside his vehicle. She noted that the Honda had landed upright after flipping at least twice. In a second conversation with emergency responders while a sheriff’s deputy was heading for the crash site, the truck driver reported that the man had climbed back into his damaged vehicle and had resumed traveling north on the interstate.

Driving south from Cotulla, Deputy Enrique Velez reported seeing the white Honda traveling at approximately 45 miles per hour with a broken windshield, deployed airbags flapping in the windows, broken side mirrors hanging from their mountings, a damaged rear wheel and a flat tire.

Malvaez had driven at least eleven miles from the crash site when he was stopped by the sheriff’s deputy.

“The driver said that he didn’t remember clearly what had happened, but that he thought the Honda had flipped at least twice,” the deputy said of his roadside interview with Malvaez. “He said that he looked at the car and thought that it was not damaged too badly, and that the engine started as soon as he turned the key. He said he just wanted to go home, so that’s what he was doing.”

The case has been turned over to the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol for continued investigation.

November 6, 2017

Nine arrests,
Oct. 30 - Nov. 6

By Marc Robertson
Nine people were taken into custody in La Salle County over the past week, according to the Sheriff’s Office, with arrests made by deputies, officers of the Encinal Police Department, and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, on a range of misdemeanor and felony charges as well as on local warrants for failure to meet court obligations.

Those arrested between Monday, October 30, and Monday, November 6, in addition to those being held for other jurisdictions, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, are as follows:

Jeanette Perales, 42, of Cotulla; arrested 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant for revocation of probation on a state jail felony charge of forgery; released on bond after three hours.

Roel Eloy Trejo, 35, of Bandera, Texas; arrested 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County Court for failure to appear in court on a charge of possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia; remains in jail as of Nov. 6.

David Anthony Colchado, 44, of Cotulla; arrested 5:20 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for three counts of contributing to truancy or non-attendance; released on bond after one day, 20 hours.

Maria Castro, 31, of Encinal; arrested 7:36 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, by the Encinal PD; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving without a license; released after 18 hours on promise to pay fines.

Elizabeth Sanchez, 24, of Laredo; arrested 1:10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after 11 hours.

Patricio Niaves III, 30, of Cotulla; arrested 2:46 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet court obligations on charges of speeding, game animal hunting violation, failing to maintain financial responsibility, and failing to appear in court or comply with court orders; released after 13 hours on promise to pay fines.

Abel Garcia, 19, of Laredo; arrested 5:44 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failing to meet a court obligation on a charge of speeding; released on bond after one hour.

Ricardo Soto, 46, of Encinal; arrested 8:55 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, by the Encinal PD; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for displaying an expired license plate, driving with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, and failing to appear in court; remains in jail as of Nov. 6.

Jose Alfredo Garcia, 19, of Laredo; arrested 11:11 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Bexar County on a charge of evading arrest or detention; remains in jail as of Nov. 6.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Michael Finis Turner, court-ordered release after 61 days, 15 hours; Serafin Miranda, court-ordered release after 51 days, one hour; Shannon Nicole Rea, court-ordered release after 45 days, one hour; Mariah Ashley Flores, transferred after eight days, 15 hours; and Anita Ruiz, released on bond after two days, 23 hours. 

October 31, 2017

JP signs new arrest warrants this week

By Marc Robertson
La Salle County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez is signing arrest warrants this week for a number of individuals who have failed to make court appearances or meet court-ordered obligations.

Those for whom warrants are being signed will be subject to arrest at home, at work or in the course of routine traffic stops when they are identified by a peace officer.

All those who have unresolved cases or who have failed to meet appointments to see a judge, pay fines or meet other obligations after being cited will be subject to immediate arrest and face additional charges. All those with outstanding citations at the JP’s office should make court appearances at the office on Center Street adjoining Cotulla Veterans Park downtown and have forfeited the right to make arrangements by telephone. A telephone call does not constitute a court appearance.

Arrest warrants are being signed for the following:

Belena H De Los Santos, 50, of Cotulla; driving while license is suspended or not valid.

Abel R Gonzalez, 32, of Laredo; failure to appear in court, driving while license is not valid, speeding.

Juan Javier Martinez, 55, of Eagle Pass; violating a promise to appear in court, permit violation, driving without a commercial vehicle inspection certificate, excess vehicle weight on zoned road.

Oscar Palacios, 34, of Laredo; failure to appear in court (two counts), speeding, disregarding signal at railroad crossing, driving without a license.

Jose Maria Ramirez, 59, of Cotulla; failure to appear in court, driving with an expired license.

Daniel Adrian Salazar, 20, of Cotulla; driving while license is not valid.

Pedro Salazar III, 26, of Laredo; displaying an expired license plate, speeding.

Lorenza James Spinks, 32, of Hobson; failure to appear in court, excess vehicle weight on zoned road, failure to retain duty status.

Santana I Vasquez, 46, of San Antonio; child safety seat violation, speeding.

Luis Castillo, 25, of Dilley; driving while license is suspended or not valid.  

October 30, 2017

13 arrests,
Oct. 23-30

By Marc Robertson
Thirteen people were jailed on a range of misdemeanor and felony charges in La Salle County last week, with arrests made by sheriff’s deputies and officers of the Encinal Police Department.

Those taken into custody, in addition to detainees being held for other jurisdictions, between Monday, October 23, and Monday, Oct. 30, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, are as follows:

Cynthia Elizabeth Mata, 28, of Rio Bravo, Texas; arrested 11:24 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for state jail felony failure to appear in court; remains in jail as of Oct. 30.

Jiovanni Rodriguez, 22, of Laredo; arrested 12:25 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; remains in jail as of Oct. 30.

Margarito Duenas Castillo, 58, of Amery, Wisconsin; arrested 9:02 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, by the Encinal PD; Class A misdemeanor driving while intoxicated, Class B misdemeanor driving with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle; released on bond after 22 hours.

Arturo B. Castor, 38, of Cotulla; arrested 12:04 a.m. Friday, Oct. 27, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for driving without a license, driving while license is not valid and failing to appear in court; court-ordered release after 20 hours.

Joseph Santana Garcia, 18, of Dilley; arrested 11:05 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving with expired vehicle registration; court-ordered release after 15 hours.

Lauro Ruiz, 40, of Pearsall; arrested 3:20 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor disorderly conduct; court-ordered release after ten hours.

Angel Garcia., 21, of Cotulla; arrested 3:25 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor disorderly conduct; court-ordered release after 11 hours.

Maritza Velma Gonzalez, 27, of Cotulla; arrested 3:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor disorderly conduct; court-ordered release after 11 hours.

Iliana Nereida Gonzales, 34, of Laredo; arrested 3:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor disorderly conduct; court-ordered release after 12 hours.

Arturo Cedillo Jr., 45, of Laredo; arrested 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor disorderly conduct; court-ordered release after ten hours.

Amy Garcia Gonzalez, 35, of Cotulla; arrested 2 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; court-ordered release after 13 hours.

Anita Ruiz, 44, of Pearsall; arrested 6:57 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid with a prior conviction; remains in jail as of Oct. 30.

Edward Acuna, 36, of Corpus Christi, Texas; arrested 8:22 a.m. Monday, Oct. 30, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by Austin Pardon & Parole Board for parole violation; remains in jail as of Oct. 30.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Ricardo Sierra, court-ordered release after 80 days, 22 hours; Cesar Antonio Adams Jr., court-ordered release after 24 days, seven hours; and Irene Contreras, court-ordered release after 14 days, 18 hours.

October 26, 2017

Grand jury indictments...

Encinal trio faces federal felony
drug charges after DEA investigation

Two Encinal women were arrested by local and federal agents last week and a man was served with charges while in custody after a grand jury in Laredo handed down indictments against each in connection with a drug traffic investigation that began in September.

Case reports and officer statements indicate Nelda Priscilla Reyes, 53, Maria Irma Sanchez Soto, 55, and Miguel Angel Reyes, 31, were served with drug-related felony charges by agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration last week after federal indictments were signed on October 24. Each has been charged with felony possession of controlled substances – namely more than 400 grams of crystal methamphetamine and more than 22 grams of cocaine.

Nelda Reyes was taken into custody at an address in the 700 block of Goft Street in Cotulla on the federal arrest warrant on Thursday morning, Oct. 26. Soto was arrested on the federal warrant in Encinal after she was identified in a vehicle with an expired registration during the course of a routine traffic stop. Miguel Reyes was being held in the Webb County Jail on a charge of human smuggling when he was served with the indictment Thursday.

Agents have indicated the women were found with the narcotics on September 14, during the course of an investigation by the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and the DEA into drug traffic activity at a residence on Berry Street in Encinal.

The case is supported by further evidence that included interviews and surveillance, according to officers, and investigations conducted by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.

Possible sentencing on the federal drug charges, if the three suspects are convicted, includes prison terms of up to 40 years.

October 23, 2017

12 arrests,
Oct. 16-23

By Marc Robertson
Twelve people were jailed on a range of misdemeanor and felony charges in La Salle County last week, with arrests made by sheriff’s deputies, officers of the Encinal Police Department, and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Those taken into custody, in addition to detainees being held for other jurisdictions, between Monday, October 16, and Monday, Oct. 23, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, are as follows:

Jesus Roberto Tellez, 34, of Cotulla; arrested 8:55 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle District Court for third-degree felony probation violation and state jail felony probation violation, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver; released on bond after one day, seven hours.

Robert Bryan Campirano, 31, of Crystal City; arrested 11:33 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Dimmit County for misdemeanor theft by check; released on bond after one day, five hours.

Kenji Guy Dorsey-Imabori, 23, of Pearland, Texas; arrested 1:14 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid with a previous conviction; released on bond after two days, eight hours.

Dominique Renee Lopez, 25, of Cotulla; arrested 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County Court for failure to appear in court on a charge of assault causing bodily injury to a family member; released on bond after one day, 12 hours.

Leopoldo Rodriguez Jr., 34, of Laredo; arrested 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, by the Texas DPS; state jail felony money laundering up to $30,000; released on bond after 20 hours.

Elias Isaiah Esparza, 21, of Cotulla; arrested 2:26 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after six hours.

Rodolfo Valentin Garcia, 39, of Fort Worth; arrested 12:12 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, by the Texas DPS; state jail felony driving while intoxicated with a child passenger under age 15; remains in jail as of Monday, Oct. 23.

Mariah Ashley Flores, 17, of San Antonio; arrested 9:50 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, by the Encinal PD; warrant issued in Bexar County for theft; remains in jail as of Monday, Oct. 23.

Jack Daniel Coleman, 28, of Cotulla; arrested 2:57 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; remains in jail as of Monday, Oct. 23.

Victor Emmanuel Fernandez, 29, of Laredo; arrested 9:20 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after 11 hours.

Veronica Vasquez Marroquin, 41, of Gardendale; arrested 12:24 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after 18 hours.

Eric Scott Sierra, 39, of Cotulla; arrested 9:13 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; remains in jail as of Monday, Oct. 23.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Leanna Janae Rios, released on bond after 30 days, 17 hours; Roger Salinas, court-ordered release after 21 days, seven hours; and Chris Caswell Tamayo, court-ordered release after 13 days, 15 hours.

October 17, 2017

Quarter-mile exclusion zone...

Firefighters surround
tank battery blaze after blast

By Marc Robertson
The ignition of an oil tank battery is under investigation by Carrizo Oil & Gas this week in the wake of an apparent explosion and fire at an energy industry site in northern La Salle County on Tuesday morning, October 17.

Emergency services were dispatched to the scene on the Ledwig Ranch between Millett and Dilley shortly after 10:48 a.m. Tuesday and arrived to find fires near a number of upright storage tanks. Acting Chief Daniel Mendez of the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS noted in a brief statement that it appeared an initial blast at the scene had extinguished itself and that peripheral fires remained.

Preliminary reports from the scene indicated that two oilfield workers sustained injuries and required helicopter transport to hospital in San Antonio, although the fire chief said the call for helicopter transport should not be interpreted as injuries having been severe or life threatening. There has been no further statement regarding the workers’ conditions.

Firefighters established a quarter-mile exclusion zone, surrounded the scene and remained at the site with several units to help extinguish remaining fires and prevent the possible spread of wildfires in the open areas.

Although situated within ten miles of Dilley, the incident did not warrant evacuation of any residential areas or schools, according to the fire chief. Information regarding the incident was relayed to Dilley ISD administrators.
  

October 17, 2017

JP signs warrants for court dodgers

By Marc Robertson
La Salle County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez is signing arrest warrants this week for a number of individuals who have failed to make court appearances or meet court-ordered obligations.

Those for whom warrants are being signed will be subject to arrest at home, at work or in the course of routine traffic stops when they are identified by a peace officer.

All those who have unresolved cases or who have failed to meet appointments to see a judge, pay fines or meet other obligations after being cited will be subject to immediate arrest and face additional charges. All those with outstanding citations at the JP’s office should make court appearances at the office on Center Street adjoining Cotulla Veterans Park downtown and have forfeited the right to make arrangements by telephone. A telephone call does not constitute a court appearance.

Arrest warrants are being signed for the following:

Christian Oliver Alaniz, 44, of Cotulla; driving without a license, speeding, seatbelt violation.

Garrison Cade Kelley, 21, of Beaumont, Texas; possession of drug paraphernalia, driving without a commercial license, failing to maintain financial responsibility.

Carlos Alberto Olivares, 22, of Laredo; failing to appear in court, following too closely, speeding.

Kelvin Jossue Rios-Canales, 27, of Houston; violating a promise to appear in court, driving without a license, speeding.

Samantha Ariel Sanchez, 22, of Converse, Texas; violating a promise to appear in court, speeding.

Christopher Andrew Sandoval, 24, of Cotulla; two counts of failing to appear in court, failing to maintain financial responsibility, driving with defective tail lamps.

Caesar Ismael Villarreal, 30, of San Antonio; driving with excess vehicle weight on a zoned roadway.

Steve Eusebio Sosa, 28, of Cotulla; driving without a license.

Rafael Garcia Jr, 56, of Bishop, Texas; failing to secure cargo, speeding, driving a vehicle over legal size and of excess weight.

Lizzeth Alvarado Martin, 25, of Laredo; violating a promise to appear in court, child safety seat violation, driving without a license, speeding.
  

October 17, 2017

TxDOT reports collecting
10 million cubic feet of storm debris

The Texas Department of Transportation reported in a press release Tuesday, October 17, that its employees have helped gather ten million cubic feet of debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which struck the Gulf Coast at the end of August.

The collected debris, including the remains of structures, vegetation and other obstacles on state roadways and adjoining areas, amounts to the equivalent of 186 football fields in size and was gathered in large part from the four TxDOT districts most impacted by the storm.

“From Corpus Christi to Houston and numerous towns in between, TxDOT crews have worked tirelessly to help clear roadways and help citizens in their ongoing recovery efforts,” the agency noted in its statement Tuesday.

“We continue to deliver much needed service to those communities seeking our assistance,” TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams said. “I am so proud of the men and women of TxDOT who have so selflessly given their time and energy to this clean-up effort, even while many of them continue coping with their own personal losses.”

More than 600 TxDOT employees working weekly rotations have been brought in from around the state to assist local employees with debris removal in the hardest-hit areas on the coast from Corpus Christi to Beaumont, according to the transportation department, which adds that more than 500 road closures impacted the state transportation system at the height of the storm.

Today, only one road -- Park Road 1C in Buescher State Park in Bastrop County -- remains closed due to damage. Additionally, more than 4,300 bridges were inspected following the storm and only 13 required some repair, according to TxDOT, and of the 25 state assistance requests for debris removal that the department received, work has been completed in 10 counties and cities.
  

October 16, 2017

11 arrests,
Oct. 9-16

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that 11 individuals were arrested over the past week on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges as well as on warrants for failing to comply with court orders.

Arrests between Monday, October 9, and Monday, Oct. 16, were made by La Salle County sheriff’s deputies, officers of the Cotulla Patrol Division and the Encinal Police Department, and by troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Those taken into custody, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, in addition to those being held for other jurisdictions, are as follows:

Francisco Martinez, 52, of Cotulla; arrested 5:42 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after 18 hours.

Josepha Ernestina Lara, 42, of Cotulla; arrested 11:54 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 in a drug-free zone, Class A misdemeanor public lewdness; released on bond after one day, 17 hours.

Roberto Angeles Lopez, 32, of Mexia, Texas; arrested 11:54 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor public lewdness; released on bond after 13 hours.

Bobby Ramirez, 27, of Cotulla; arrested 1:51 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to comply with a court order or to appear in court, warrant issued in La Salle District Court for failure to appear in court; released on bond after 11 hours.

Oscar Rene Niavez, 27, of Dilley; arrested 1:51 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for two misdemeanor counts of driving without a license, speeding, and failing to comply with a court obligation on a charge of littering; court-ordered release after ten hours.

Edgar Ivan Hernandez, 29, of San Antonio; arrested 6:55 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid with a previous conviction, warrants issued on five counts of failing to comply with a court order or to appear in court; released on bond after one day, seven hours.

Andrew Ezekiel De La Garza, 24, of Cotulla; arrested 11:40 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Bexar County for theft by check up to $750; released on bond after three hours.

Rafael Merla, 24, of Laredo; arrested 11:36 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace on two counts of violating a promise to appear in court; released on bond after three hours.

Esiquiel Ayala Romero, 35, of Cotulla; arrested 3:51 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1, misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after six hours.

Oscar Perez, 28, of Cotulla; arrested 1:36 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; third-degree felony assault of a family or household member by impeding breath or circulation; released on bond after eight hours.

Jose Saucedo Morales, 51, of Bastrop, Texas; arrested 4:55 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after 17 hours.

*Addendum: those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Ricardo Alberto Gonzalez, released on bond after 92 days, 11 hours; Cody Dee Canion, released on bond after 33 days, 20 hours; Gustavo Garcia Garza, released on bond after 21 hours; and Abelardo Molina, released on bond after one day.

October 9, 2017

14 arrests,
October 2-9

By Marc Robertson
Fourteen individuals were taken into custody over the past week in La Salle County on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges, according to the sheriff’s office.

Arrests between Monday, October 2, and Monday, Oct. 9, were made by sheriff’s deputies, officers of the Cotulla City Patrol and the Encinal Police Department, and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Those taken into custody, in addition to those being held in La Salle County on behalf of other counties, with arrest times logged at booking in the county jail, included the following:

Roger Salinas, 36, address not listed; arrested 4 a.m. Monday, Oct. 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle District Court for revocation of probation; on hold for Denton County; remains in jail as of Oct. 9.

Juan Alberto Ramirez, 60, of San Antonio; arrested 2:55 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia; released after 13 hours on promise to pay fines.

Yvonne Luna, 51, of Cotulla; arrested 3:12 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet a court obligation on a charge of violating a promise to appear in court, and warrants issued in La Salle County for failing to meet court obligations on charges of not maintaining financial responsibility and driving with an expired motor vehicle inspection certificate; released after 12 hours on promise to pay fines.

Joslyn Barba, 27, of San Antonio; arrested 2:55 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; released on bond after one day, 12 hours.

Chris Caswell Tamayo, 39, of Cotulla; arrested 9:50 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; arrests issued by La Salle County Justices of the Peace for two counts of driving while license is not valid, four counts of failing to appear in court or violating a promise to appear, and failing to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving while license is not valid; remains in jail as of Oct. 9.

Jack Earl Hooks, 67, of Dilley; arrested 11:40 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Frio County for third-degree felony violation of a protective order; released on bond after one day, six hours.

Jerry Aguilar Jr., 36, of Del Rio; arrested 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after 22 hours.

Jesus Martin Villezcas III, 21, of Laredo; arrested 10:51 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County Court for violating a promise to appear in court and possession of drug paraphernalia; released after four hours on promise to pay fines.

Anthony Howard Tschirhart, 54, of Houston; arrested 6:25 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after one day, 16 hours.

Angelica San Miguel, 38, of Cotulla; arrested 12 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after one day, 17 hours.

Julian Mojica Jr., 38, of Cotulla; arrested 12 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after one day, 17 hours.

Irene Contreras, 32, of Cotulla; arrested 6:47 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8, by the Cotulla City Patrol; wanted by Austin Pardon & Parole Board for state jail felony parole violation; remains in jail as of Oct. 9.

Gustavo Garcia Garza, 65, of Encinal; arrested 10:14 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8, by the Encinal PD; Class A misdemeanor terroristic threat of a family or household member; released on bond after 21 hours.

Abelardo Molina, 34, of Cotulla; arrested 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle District Court for failing to appear in court on a charge of possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; remains in jail as of Oct. 9.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Jason Garcia, released on bond after 50 days, 23 hours; Ricardo Ramirez Jr., released on bond after nine days, two hours; Eloy Rodriguez Jr., released after 17 hours on promise to pay fines; and Crispin Hernandez, released after 18 hours on promise to pay fines.

October 7, 2017

Investigation begins into gas explosion

FM 469 closed moments before blast launches debris 3/4 mile

By Marc Robertson
The Texas Railroad Commission and the state’s environmental quality agency have begun an investigation into the possible causes and effects of a fire and gas explosion that took place at an energy industry site in eastern La Salle County on Saturday afternoon, October 7.

Emergency responders were dispatched to the property operated through Carrizo Oil & Gas some five miles north of Los Angeles on FM 469 shortly after 2:30 p.m. Saturday after being notified that a fuel tanker truck had begun to burn.

According to a statement provided this week by the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS, firefighters and sheriff’s deputies were assisted by Texas Highway Patrol troopers in promptly closing the two-lane farm-to-market road when it became apparent that the tanker truck fire threatened to spread to an adjoining fuel storage facility. Firefighters reported hearing a high-pitched whistling sound indicative of pressurized gases leaking at the site of the fire, according to a report on the incident. All responders were immediately instructed to retreat because of the apparent risk of fire spreading to the storage tank.  

Acting Fire Chief Daniel Mendez said on Monday that an evacuation zone of an approximate one-mile radius was established and all traffic on FM 469 halted at intersections in Los Angeles and Millett.

Mendez said that shortly after the exclusion zone had been created and emergency vehicles were retreating to a safe distance from the fire, an explosion tore apart the fuel tank and sent one end of the metal container hundreds of feet into the air. The metal tank cap landed on FM 469 approximately three fourths of a mile from the blast site.

There have been no serious injuries reported from the incident. Emergency responders have noted that the tanker truck was connected to a liquid propane (LPG) fueling line and that small fires resulting from the initial explosion were discovered at or near the blast site. Firefighters worked to extinguish those and to eliminate further risk of wildfires spreading into the brush from the scene.

Mendez said firefighters reported that the explosion had completely destroyed the tanker truck and that a minimal amount of fire remained in the vehicle wreckage.

Representatives of Carrizo Oil & Gas and Select Energy arrived on scene Saturday to assess the damage and to begin their own investigation into the causes of the fire and subsequent explosion.  
  
Viewed from an emergency responder vehicle Saturday afternoon, Oct. 7, a ball of flame erupts from a fuel storage tank at the moment of explosion following a fire in a tanker truck that had been parked beside it at an energy industry site near Los Angeles in eastern La Salle County. A one-mile exclusion zone had been established moments before the blast.
The metal cap of a fuel storage tank lies across FM 469 in eastern La Salle County on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 7, after being flung three fourths of a mile in an explosion at an energy industry site.

October 2, 2017

12 arrests, Sept. 25 - 
October 2

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that 12 people were taken into custody over the past week on a range of charges, with arrests made by sheriff’s deputies, officers of the Cotulla City Patrol, the Encinal Police Department, and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Those taken into custody between Monday, September 25, and Monday, October 2, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail in Cotulla, in addition to those being held for extradition to other counties, are as follows:

Elias Hernandez, 36, of Cotulla; arrested 1:03 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County Court for revocation of probation, and for failure to appear in court on a charge of marijuana possession; remains in jail as of Oct. 2.

Christopher Anthony Custer, 21, of Dilley; arrested 6:50 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, (arresting agency not listed); state jail felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; released on bond after 23 hours.

Julie Nicole Durnell, 33, of Valley View, Texas; arrested 11:36 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, (arresting agency not listed); warrant issued in Bee County for possession of marijuana; released on bond after one day, one hour.

Jose Luis Martinez, 61, of Dilley; arrested 11:36 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, by the Sheriff’s Office; listed as wanted by the Texas Rangers, warrant for first-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity; remains in jail as of Oct. 2.

Ricardo Ramirez Jr., 50, of Dilley; arrested 9:55 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, by the Sheriff’s Office; listed as wanted by the Texas Rangers, warrant for first-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity, warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for second-degree felony burglary of a habitation; remains in jail as of Oct. 2.

Rolando Lozano Gonzalez, 40, of Cotulla; arrested 10:55 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, by the Cotulla City Patrol; warrant issued in La Salle County for Class A misdemeanor theft of property up to $2,500; released on bond after 19 hours.

Cesar Antonio Adams Jr., 22, of Encinal; arrested 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, by the Encinal PD; warrant issued in La Salle District Court for failure to appear in court on a third-degree felony charge of assault on a public servant; remains in jail as of Oct. 2.

Marcela Ferrara, 43, of Laredo; arrested 5:06 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, by the Encinal PD; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for driving while license is not valid; released on bond after one hour.

Basilio Plaza Jr., 41, of Dilley; arrested 9:17 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving while license is not valid, and warrant issued by the Austin Pardon & Parole Board for parole violation; remains in jail as of Oct. 2.

Omar Resendez, 48, of San Antonio; arrested 4:25 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor displaying a fictitious license plate; released on bond after six hours.

Eloy Rodriguez Jr., 30, of Cotulla; arrested 9:10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failure to meet court obligations on charges of failing to maintain financial responsibility and driving without a license; remains in jail as of Oct. 2.

Crispin Hernandez, 48, of Cotulla; arrested 8:50 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for public intoxication, failure to maintain financial responsibility, and driving while license is not valid; remains in jail as of Oct. 2.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Rodrigo Esparza, transferred after 11 days, 12 hours; Brian Lee Navarro, released on bond after four days; and Nathan Edward Valdez, released on bond after five days, 22 hours.

September 29, 2017

Traffic detours ahead...

$14M Cotulla Loop construction
begins Oct. 2

East-side interstate access road closes for six months

By Marc Robertson
The Texas Department of Transportation has confirmed that construction is set to begin on Monday, October 2, for the new Cotulla Loop truck relief route between IH-35 and Hwy 97.

The long-awaited bypass will carry traffic from the interstate to a state highway and a farm-to-market road that are heavily used by commercial vehicles between Cotulla, Los Angeles, Fowlerton, Tilden, Orange Grove and Corpus Christi. Construction has been contracted by La Salle County to Anderson Columbia at a cost of $14 million, approved earlier this year by county commissioners.

In order to facilitate construction of the new intersection between the loop and the interstate, a section of the IH-35 access road north of Cotulla will be closed for the duration. All traffic will be diverted from the east-side access road to the west until April 2018. Traffic is able to cross under the interstate at Exit 69 in Cotulla (north- and southbound), and at Exits 73 (northbound) and 74 (southbound) in Gardendale.

Construction and related traffic detours at the intersection are estimated to last six months, according to TxDOT in a prepared statement September 29.

When complete, the Cotulla Loop will carry traffic over the Union Pacific Railroad line a mile north of Cotulla, past the Cotulla – La Salle County Airport, as far as Hwy 97, beside the La Salle County Fairgrounds and close to the intersection with FM 624.

City and county government leaders are expecting the truck relief route to remove the burden of commercial vehicles from the downtown area, notably the intersection between Hwy 97 and Business IH-35 (Main Street), where local traffic was impeded by a steady flow of commercial pickup trucks, service vehicles and 18-wheel freighters and tankers during the peak of the energy industry activity over the Eagle Ford Shale. Planning for the relief route has been underway since 2010; state funding for the project was declined by TxDOT, citing budget constraints, and La Salle County subsequently raised the money for the road through a bond sale for which payments have already begun.

Property developers are expected to eye the newly opened real estate on either side of the four-lane road with a view to using the acreage for warehouses, industrial premises and a residential subdivision. Further development is anticipated at the intersection between the loop and IH-35, where travel-related businesses may be established.

September 26, 2017

Water levels rise after heavy storms...

65 rescued from flooded jobsite;
other crews also stranded

By Marc Robertson
Emergency rescues of stranded oilfield workers in La Salle County began shortly after dawn on Tuesday, September 26, in the wake of heavy rains and flash flooding that inundated the Nueces River basin and other low-lying areas.

In one incident, as many as 65 workers at the Sanchez Oil & Gas worksite off Cochina Ranch Road in southwestern La Salle County found themselves facing rising waters in the early-morning hours and moved to higher ground, from which they were ultimately rescued by law enforcement officers, firefighters and volunteers.

Using bulldozers, dump trucks and road graders made available locally, and in boats provided by the US Border Patrol from several stations in the region, rescuers plucked the stranded workers from their remote hilltop and transported them to safety with no reports of injuries. Rescuers also included several Texas game wardens from across the region, and the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS with manpower and heavy vehicles.

“The workers had been caught off guard by the rapidly rising waters during the storm, which kept on through the night,” La Salle Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Mirelez said of the incident, one of at least three cases of workers being cut off from their service roads on Tuesday. “They circled the wagons, so to speak, and took as many of their trucks to higher ground, but there was still water up to the running boards.”

Other rescues of stranded oilfield workers on Tuesday included an operation on the Vesper Ranch, off FM 468 near the Dimmit County Line, where 46 oilfield workers were brought to safety; and similar action coordinated by the Dimmit County Sheriff’s Office west of La Salle.

Deputies noted that those who were stranded in the outlying areas expressed concerns over the danger that rising water could contain snakes, and that the muddy nature of the flooding made it difficult to determine how deep the waters were running.

“In one area that we observed, the stretch of water between the oilfield workers and safe ground was approximately one and a half miles,” Deputy Mirelez said. “We anticipate further flooding, so we caution everyone never to drive into water on the road, and always to observe flash-flood warnings.”

In a Tuesday afternoon incident, a freight truck traveling on the interstate access road at Millett was left stranded when its driver attempted to cross a flooded section of road, unable to determine how deep the water had become.    
Rapidly rising floodwaters at the Sanchez Oil & Gas jobsite off Cochina Ranch Road early Tuesday, Sept. 26, (Photos this page) resulted in a rescue operation by law enforcement, Border Patrol, game wardens and others for 65 workers at the remote location.  

September 25, 2017

Six arrests, Sept. 18-25

By Marc Robertson
Six individuals were arrested on a range of misdemeanor and felony charges in La Salle County last week, in addition to those who have been placed on hold for extradition to neighboring counties.

Arrests were made between Monday, September 18 and 25 by La Salle County sheriff’s deputies, officers of the Cotulla Patrol Division, the Encinal Police Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Those taken into custody, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, are as follows:

Leanna Janae Rios, 17, of Encinal; arrested 2:40 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia; remains in jail as of Sept. 25.

Shannon Nicole Rea, 27, of Cotulla; arrested 10:05 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, by the Sheriff’s Office; 45-day commitment; remains in jail as of Sept. 25.

Ana Lydia Villarreal, 46, of Encinal; arrested 10:52 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, by the Encinal PD; warrants issued by La Salle County Justices of the Peace for failing to meet court obligations on charges of driving without a license, failing to maintain financial responsibility and driving with an expired vehicle inspection certificate, bail jumping, and three counts of violating a promise to appear in court; released on bond after eight hours.

Maria Alicia Rodriguez, 37, of Encinal; arrested 10:52 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; released on bond after 11 hours.

Brian Lee Navarro, 18, of Zapata, Texas; arrested 7:22 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; remains in jail as of Sept. 25.

Nathan Edward Valdez, 26, of Rio Bravo, Texas; arrested 7:55 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Webb County for non-payment of child support; remains in jail as of Sept. 25.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Rodrigo Rodriguez Jr., transferred after 145 days, 17 hours; Jesus Puente, transferred after seven days, 18 hours; Eric Scott Sierra, court-ordered release after eight days, 18 hours; Rodrigo Esparza, transferred after 11 days, 12 hours; and Gustavo Facundo Garza, released on bond after 18 hours.      

September 21, 2017

When seconds count

Crew members of the Methodist AirCare helicopter emergency flight team visited La Salle County on Thursday, September 21, to address emergency responders and law enforcement officers on vital details of establishing a landing zone at crisis scenes in order to ensure the safe transport of critically injured patients. Headquartered at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, the crew makes emergency medical flights to surrounding counties and has an estimated transport time of 30 minutes from La Salle County. Thursday’s presentation included measuring a landing zone of approximately 100 by 100 feet, ensuring the zone and approach are free of obstacles such as poles, wires, trees and debris; and how to light a landing zone and maintain safety protocols during patient loading. Presentation attendees were shown the different aircraft used by Methodist AirCare, including rear- and side-loading helicopters; instructed in areas to avoid when a helicopter lands; how to communicate with the air crew; and potential hazards to avoid. The crew members then demonstrated the various components of the helicopter, including the swing-out gurney that extends into a portion of the cockpit, and pointed out hazards and safety precautions. Present to answer questions after the presentation were Program Director Lauri Beechler, Base Manager Michael Cosentino, Flight Nurse Kelly Andrews, Flight Paramedic Russell Monroe, and Pilot Jess Smith. Among those attending the presentation were deputies and administrators from the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and constabulary, troopers and staff from the Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, and firefighters and paramedics from the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS.  

September 21, 2017

Continuing drug traffic intervention in Encinal...

Three face charges after task force raids

By Marc Robertson
Three Encinal residents were charged Thursday morning, September 21, after search warrants were carried out at two homes by a narcotics intervention task force that is reporting recovery of drugs and related paraphernalia.

In a brief statement on the cases, representatives of the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and the US Drug Enforcement Administration noted that they were joined in the task force raids by Encinal police officers, agents of the US Border Patrol and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Surveillance, groundwork and evidence collection in the investigations were carried out by officers of the Encinal Police Department, who also took a leading role in the task force and subsequent arrests.

In the first of two raids, task force officers entered a home at the corner of South Nogalitos and Mulberry streets in Encinal at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and recovered cocaine and drug paraphernalia. Maria Alicia Rodriguez, 37, was arrested at the scene on a state jail felony charge of possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1.

Fifteen minutes later, the task force entered a home on Devine Street in Encinal and recovered marijuana and additional drug paraphernalia. Suspects identified in the raid included Cesar Adams Jr., 22, who was subsequently cited with Class C misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia; and 46-year-old Anna Villarreal, who was taken into custody on eight active arrest warrants that had been issued in La Salle County. She also faces a drug paraphernalia possession charge.

Adams has been listed as a wanted fugitive on an arrest warrant for failure to appear in court to face a charge of assault on a public servant.

Both search warrants were secured after officers investigating narcotics traffic in Encinal had conducted surveillance and gathered information that helped identify the residences as possible sites related to the drug trade.

The arrests come in the wake of raids carried out a week previously, when task force officers searched homes in Cotulla and Encinal and recovered narcotics and paraphernalia related to drug use and trafficking.  

September 18, 2017

Five freight trucks and a car...

Highway closed for hours after multi-vehicle pile-up

By Marc Robertson
La Salle County sheriff’s deputies were among the first on the scene of a pre-dawn traffic pile-up south of Cotulla on Monday, September 18, involving five freight trucks, a car, and serious injuries to a Laredo-bound driver.

The southbound lanes of IH-35 between Cotulla and Artesia Wells were closed for several hours beginning at around 5 a.m. Monday and traffic was diverted to the east-side access road during an investigation by the Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol and subsequent crash-site cleanup.

Preliminary reports on the incident indicate that a southbound freight truck may have sideswiped a stationary freighter that was undergoing some emergency roadside repairs, then veered across both southbound lanes and tipped onto its right side, blocking traffic. The driver was later transported to hospital by ambulance.  

A southbound sedan then reportedly collided with the exposed underside of the overturned freight trailer, according to officers examining the scene. The car’s driver was subsequently airlifted from the interstate and was listed as having suffered life-threatening injuries. Reports from the scene indicated that the driver had not been able to see the obstruction in the road and that she may not have had time to apply her brakes before impact.

A southbound freight truck then also collided with the overturned freighter, breaking the box trailer in half and separating its rear axles from the subframe. A portion of the trailer’s grain and horse feed cargo was spilled.

The drivers of two further freight trucks traveling side by side in the southbound lanes then attempted steering clear of the wreckage – which now included four vehicles – but may have caused their freighters to sideswipe each other as they approached the accident scene, according to officers. Both trucks sustained damage and came to a halt on the highwayside shoulder.

Other southbound vehicles approaching the crash site at highway speeds stopped on the roadside shoulder and avoided further collisions. Some vehicles came to rest on the grassy roadside median.

Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched from cities across the region to assist in traffic control and in the crash investigation. The Texas Department of Transportation issued a series of cautions to southbound motorists Monday, urging travelers to slow down at or near the accident site, to watch for emergency vehicles and diversions to the highway access roads.

Emergency responders included the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS, whose members helped treat motorists involved in the crash.   

September 18, 2017

19 arrests, Sept. 11-18

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that 19 local arrests were made over the past week by deputies, officers of the Cotulla City Patrol and the Encinal Police Department, in addition to arrests of those who are being held for extradition to neighboring counties.

Those taken into custody included a local man who had been released from jail less than five hours earlier. Arrests were made on warrants as well as for misdemeanor and felony offenses.

The following were taken into custody between Monday, Sept. 11, and Monday, Sept. 18, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail:

Mario Rodriguez, 37, address not listed; arrested 1:37 a.m. Monday. Sept. 11, by the Encinal PD; Class A misdemeanor evading arrest or detention; remains in jail as of Sept. 18, on hold for US Border Patrol.

Bobby Ramirez, 27, of Cotulla; arrested 12:08 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for disregarding a stop sign, warrant issued in La Salle County  for probation violation on a state jail felony charge of possession of a controlled substance; released on bond after 18 hours.

Oscar Rene Niavez, 27, of Dilley; arrested 12:14 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1, Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid with a previous conviction, Class B misdemeanor reckless driving; released on bond after 14 hours.

Jacinto Lucio III, 22, of Alice, Texas; arrested 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; reckless driving; released on bond after nine hours.

Jesus Puente, 48, of Rio Bravo City, Texas; arrested 2:40 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Dallas County for failure to pay child support; remains in jail as of Sept. 18.

Juan Vonje Anderson, 39, of Decatur, Illinois; arrested 3:13 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, by the Cotulla City Patrol; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for excess vehicle weight on restricted roadway; court-ordered release after 21 hours.

Eric Scott Sierra, 39, of Cotulla; arrested 10:19 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County Court for failure to appear in court on a charge of driving while license is not valid with a previous conviction; remains in jail as of Sept. 18.

Juan Angel Castillo, 27, of Cotulla; arrested 10:59 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; remains in jail as of Sept. 18.

Rodrigo Esparza, 43, of Cotulla; arrested 2:58 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Webb County for resisting arrest or transport; remains in jail as of Sept. 18.

Elisema Rivera Jones, 46, of Carrizo Springs; arrested 1 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County District Court for failure to appear in court on charges of unlawful weapon carrying, and possession of a controlled substance; remains in jail as of Sept. 18.

Francisco Martinez, 52, of Cotulla; arrested 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after 15 hours.

Jose Enrique Perales, 37, of Cotulla; arrested 8:08 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for violating a promise to appear in court and driving without a license, warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet a court obligation on a citation for disregarding a stop sign; court-ordered release after six hours. Arrested 7:03 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; released on bond after 17 hours.

Angel Renee Lopez, 18, of Cotulla; arrested 5:29 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, by the Cotulla City Patrol; first-degree felony arson causing bodily injury or death, Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after one day, one hour.

Sidney Elizavette Flores, 24, of Cotulla; arrested 8:16 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 2A, warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to comply with a court order or to appear in court and misdemeanor driving without a license; released on bond after 15 hours.

Augustine Lopez, 23, of San Antonio; arrested 2 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, by the Sheriff’s Office; public intoxication; released on bond after ten hours.

Leticia Lopez, 46, of Cotulla; arrested 11:01 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; released on bond after eight hours.

Rudy Michael Sosa, 29, of Cotulla; arrested 11:10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County District Court for state jail felony probation violation; remains in jail as of Sept. 18.

Gustavo Facundo Garza, 45, of Encinal; arrested 11:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, by the Encinal PD; first-degree felony manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; remains in jail as of Sept. 18.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Ricardo Hernandez, released on bond after 13 days, five hours; Daniel Sanchez, transferred after nine days, 22 hours; Edwin Ybarra, transferred after five days, 20 hours; Ovidio Navarro Jr., court-ordered release after one day, 12 hours; Veronica Garza, court-ordered release after one day, 12 hours; Ricardo Soto, released on bond after one day, 13 hours; and Javier Rangel, released on bond after one day, 13 hours.    

September 15, 2017

Assualt with fence post, attempt at burning home?

Woman faces felony charge after fire

By Marc Robertson
A Cotulla woman was remanded into custody on assault and arson charges Friday afternoon, September 15, after she allegedly inflicted injuries to her former boyfriend with a metal fence post and twice attempted burning down a mobile home in which he lives.

Identified as Angel Renee Lopez, 18, the woman is also suspected of having set fire to a field near County Road 3408, an incident in which a property owner was injured.

In his report on the case, La Salle Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Mirelez said he had been in the vicinity of an emergency call south of Cotulla at around 5 p.m. Friday and arrived at the scene of the wildfire to meet a woman who initially claimed she had no knowledge of the blaze. The woman was subsequently identified as Lopez; witnesses and nearby residents later made statements to the officer indicating they had seen the suspect walking from an area that was burning.
Photos this page: Two acres of brush country south of Cotulla are charred as the possible result of arson connected with a domestic dispute Friday, Sept. 15.
Deputy Mirelez said he approached a home on Comanche Road a short distance from the wildfire on CR 3408 and met a teenager identified as Rocky Castillo, who said Lopez was his ex-girlfriend and that she had repeatedly assaulted him.

Castillo, 17, bore indications of having been struck in the chest, hand and face, and appeared to have suffered a burn to the back of the head, the deputy said.

The teen reported to the deputy that Lopez had struck him with a metal fence post and that she had tried to set fire to the exterior wall of the mobile home and that she had then started a fire in a pile of papers in a second attempt to burn the residence.

Castillo said Lopez’ violent behavior had begun after the couple had engaged in an altercation in the home. Castillo and Lopez are the parents of an infant who is presently in the care of Child Protective Services.  

Deputy Mirelez noted that an examination of the residence revealed marks indicative of an attempt at starting a fire, and signs of the home’s front door and doorframe having been struck repeatedly with a heavy object.

At the same time as Deputy Mirelez was interviewing Lopez and Castillo, La Salle firefighters were extinguishing a blaze that ultimately claimed two acres of brush country. Landowner Reyes Aguero was listed as having sustained injuries in his attempts at preventing the fire from destroying a shed containing a water well.

Aguero was transported by ambulance to Frio Regional Hospital in Pearsall for treatment of head injuries.

Deputy Mirelez reported that the wildfire moved to within twenty feet of homes along the county road. An arson investigation has been summoned and will determine whether the wildfire was deliberately started.

Lopez was transported to the La Salle County Jail on a first-degree felony charge of arson causing bodily injury and a Class A misdemeanor charge of assault causing bodily injury. She was found in possession of a lighter and had suffered burns to the soles of her feet, according to the deputy’s report.

September 12, 2017

Store charged $8.99 per gallon...

State launches probe into
Encinal fuel price gouging

Customer complained of high cost during post-hurricane gas rush

By Marc Robertson
The Texas Attorney General’s Office has confirmed it will pursue an investigation with possible prosecution of anyone who may have practiced price gouging in the days after Hurricane Harvey swept across the state last month, including a gas station in Encinal where fuel was sold at $8.99 per gallon.

A complaint filed with the Encinal Police Department by a motorist from Laredo indicates that the Encinal Fuel Stop, a Chevron station beside IH-35, charged more than three times the average rate for unleaded fuel during the afternoon of Thursday, August 31. A customer receipt for the purchase shows 11.11 gallons of fuel costing $100, with prices at the pump pegged at a fraction under nine dollars per gallon.

Encinal Police Chief Roy Vallejo received the complaint and noted that his department contacted the business in question as part of an inquiry into an allegation of price gouging. He also noted that La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez contacted the Encinal Police Department at around 5 p.m. on the same day with a report regarding elevated fuel prices at the Chevron station.

The police chief said he contacted a clerk at the store and that the business employee confirmed that the Encinal Fuel Stop was selling unleaded gasoline at $9.99 per gallon, a higher rate than had been reported in the earlier complaint.

Average fuel prices in Texas during the week in question had ranged between $2.25 and $2.65 per gallon for unleaded gasoline, with some stores charging a lower rate. Reports of price gouging increased in frequency as severe weather conditions affected the state’s fuel supply and delivery capabilities. At no time, however, did Texas experience a fuel shortage.

Chief Vallejo and Sheriff Rodriguez have confirmed that the customer who reported the alleged price gouging has filed a complaint against the business with the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

In a letter to the customer dated September 2, Texas AG Ken Paxton’s office representative in the Consumer Protection Division expressed thanks for the notification and confirmed that the store’s action “may qualify as price gouging under the Texas Business and Commerce Code.”

“The law provides that it is a false, misleading or deceptive act or practice to take advantage of a disaster declared by the Governor under Chapter 418 of the Government Code,” Paxton’s office reported, “by selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price.”

Sheriff Rodriguez said this week that he is disappointed in the alleged actions of a business in the county during a time of uncertainty, when availability of fuel may have been vital to the evacuation of families from regions in the path of a destructive hurricane.

“We are going to follow up, to make sure that businesses in La Salle County do not take advantage of people in a crisis,” the sheriff said. “There is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

“What really upset us about this case was that we heard from the store clerk that he was just following his employer’s orders, regarding the price of fuel,” Sheriff Rodriguez said. “When an officer contacted the business owner about this price gouging, the business owner said he didn’t care.”

“We appreciate your time and interest in preventing consumer law violations and in the affairs of Texas consumers,” AG Paxton’s office noted in its letter to the Laredo motorist. “We rely on citizens like you to help us enforce the Deceptive Trade Practices Act and other consumer protection laws.”

There have been no confirmed reports of alleged price gouging at other fuel stations in Encinal in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, including the Love’s and Road Ranger travel centers, which are located at the same interstate intersection as the Encinal Fuel Stop.

Anyone with a complaint to file regarding alleged price gouging or other violations may do so online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or by email to consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov. The consumer protection hotline at the Attorney General’s Office can be reached at 1-800-621-0508.  

September 11, 2017

Arrests, 
Aug. 14 - Sept. 11:
51 in jail

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that 51 individuals were taken into custody on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges over the past four weeks, in addition to those who are being held in the county jail for later transfer to other jurisdictions.

Arrests in La Salle County were made by sheriff’s deputies and officers of the Cotulla Patrol Division and the Encinal Police Department, and by troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Among those arrested are some for whom warrants were signed by justices of the peace after the fugitives failed to meet court obligations or make court appearances when ordered. The arrests also include those who were listed as wanted on warrants from other counties.

Those taken into custody between Monday, August 14, and Monday, September 11, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, are as follows:

Andres Felipe Santos, 32, of Cotulla; arrested 1:20 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Bexar County for probation violation; released on bond after six hours.

Victor Hugo Barron, 27, of Freer, Texas; arrested 5:20 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14, by the Encinal PD; warrants issued in La Salle County for violating a promise to appear in court and driving without liability insurance, and warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for speeding; court-ordered release after 20 hours.

Juan Jose Maldonado, 24, of Encinal; arrested 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, by the Encinal PD; warrants issued by La Salle County Justices of the Peace for violating a promise to appear in court and public intoxication; released on bond after two days, 21 hours.

Lillian Cantu Castilleja, 58, of Dilley; arrested 5:04 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Frio County for theft of property up to $500; released on bond after one day, two hours.

Ricardo Martinez Jr., 40, of Laredo; arrested 9:59 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to comply with a court order; released on bond after 21 hours.

Jose Luis Martinez, 61, of Dilley; arrested 7:41 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; second-degree felony burglary of a habitation, warrant issued in La Salle County for state jail felony theft of a firearm; released on bond after one day, three hours.

Raul Ronaldo Ramirez Jr., 37, of Gardendale; arrested 12:10 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued for nonpayment of child support, warrant issued in Webb County for possession or use of a drug-related device; transferred after seven days, five hours.

Jason Garcia, 33, of Dilley; arrested 5:19 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, by the Sheriff’s Office; second-degree felony burglary of a habitation; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

Savannah Amanda Gomez-Chavez, 24, of San Antonio; arrested 12:28 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County Court for Class A misdemeanor making a firearm accessible to a child, resulting in death or serious bodily injury, and warrant issued in La Salle County District Court for state jail felony criminal negligence abandonment or endangerment of a child; released on bond after nine hours.

Jesus Avila III, 28, of Cotulla; arrested 10:24 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for violating a promise to appear in court (two counts), driving with an expired license and speeding; court-ordered release after 15 hours.

Antonio Garcia Jr., 28, of Cotulla; arrested 10:37 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Medina County for failing to appear in court on a charge of driving while license is not valid; court-ordered release after 13 hours.

Nestor Marulanda Jr., 33, of Richardson, Texas; arrested 12:02 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; court-ordered release after 12 hours.

Julian Alonzo Martinez, 20, of Laredo; arrested 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after 16 hours.

Adolfo Nino, 26, of Laredo; arrested 2:25 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued for misdemeanor driving without a license; released on bond after eight hours.

Benny Ray Castor, 24, of Cotulla; arrested 5:40 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor disorderly conduct; released on bond after ten hours.

Jennifer Garza Salazar, 39, of Cotulla; arrested 5:45 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, by the Sheriff’s Office; second-degree felony burglary of a habitation; released on bond after ten hours.

Jason Garza, 33, of Cotulla; arrested 5:48 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor disorderly conduct, warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet court obligations on charges of driving without a license and failing to maintain liability insurance; released on bond after 12 hours.

Steven Medina, 22, of Laredo; arrested 1:40 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

Christopher Andrew Sandoval, 23, of Cotulla; arrested 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23, by the Texas DPS; warrants issued by La Salle County Justices of the Peace for failing to comply with a court order or to appear in court (three counts) and failing to maintain financial responsibility; court-ordered release after three hours.

Jesus Manuel DeLeon, 67, of Cotulla; arrested 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after 19 hours.

Armando Gonzalez, 32, of Cotulla; arrested 9:55 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor unlawfully carrying a weapon; released on bond after 19 hours.

Anderson Karr Rubio, 22, of Mathis, Texas; arrested 12:12 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Bexar County for assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after 16 hours.

Ismael Gonzalez, 41, of Uvalde; arrested 3:08 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, by the Sheriff’s Office; second-degree felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1, third-degree felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, state jail felony possession of marijuana up to 5 lbs.; released on bond after 13 hours.

Shannon Renee Pannell, 40, of San Antonio; arrested 12:07 a.m. Monday, Aug. 28, by the Encinal PD; third-degree felony smuggling of persons, third-degree felony evading arrest or detention with a motor vehicle; released on bond after one day, 20 hours.

Jaime Munoz Gonzalez, 45, of Dallas; arrested 11:45 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28, by the Texas DPS; Class A misdemeanor cockfighting, owning, training or equipping thereof; released on bond after 16 hours.

Michael Finis Turner, 29, of Baird, Texas; arrested 7:16 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for revocation of probation on a charge of burglary of a habitation; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

Ricardo Hernandez, 21, of Hebbronville, Texas; arrested 6:04 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana under two ounces; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

Belinda Fletcher, 53, of Cotulla; arrested 4:17 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, by the Frio County Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet a court obligation on a charge of not maintaining financial responsibility; released on bond after 23 hours.

Giovanni Enrique Dastych, 17, of Cotulla; arrested 9:44 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana under two ounces; released on bond after six days, 20 hours.

Lorenzo Medina Jr., 29, of Encinal; arrested 11:24 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for Class A misdemeanor family violence assault; released on bond after five hours.

Melva Ann Medrano, 52, of Dilley; arrested 12:10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Bexar County for possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1, up to one gram; transferred after one day, 20 hours.

Ricardo Sandoval, 24, of Cotulla; arrested 9:10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County court for failure to appear in court on a charge of driving while intoxicated, warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to appear in court, warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to appear in court on a charge of driving while intoxicated with a child passenger; court-ordered release after three days, 15 hours.

Eduardo M. Torres, 47, of Dilley; arrested 11:25 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after 19 hours.

Rosa Maria Castor, 60, of Cotulla; arrested 3:48 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after nine hours.

Jesus Gabriel Garcia, 38, of Cotulla; arrested 3:08 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor charges of interfering with an emergency call, resisting arrest or search, and family violence assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after 16 hours.

Daniel Sanchez, 24, of Pflugerville, Texas; arrested 11:20 a.m. Monday, Sept. 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Austin for second-degree felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; remains in jail on hold for the US Border Patrol as of Sept. 11.

Enrique Mallen Lopez, 56, of Pleasanton, Texas; arrested 10:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; court-ordered release after 21 hours.

Fabian Cordova, 32, of Cotulla; arrested 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; released on bond after four hours.

Juan Aguilar Martinez, 58, of Laredo; arrested 10:34 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Webb County for possession of a controlled substance; transferred after two days, 12 hours.

Melanie Dawn Galan, 39, of Cotulla; arrested 7:57 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failure to appear in court and possession of drug paraphernalia; court-ordered release after 18 hours.

Cody Dee Canion, 39, of Cotulla; arrested 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief up to $750, Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

Eraldo Bedolla, 21, of Guatamo Michoacan, Mexicco; arrested 3:20 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County District Court for third-degree felony assault / attempted murder; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

Maricruz Gonzalez, 28, of Cotulla; arrested 1:58 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid, with a previous conviction, and failing to maintain financial responsibility; released on bond after 14 hours.

Jose DeLeon, 30, of Cotulla; arrested 5:15 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8, by the Sheriff’s Office; third-degree felony assault on a family or household member by impeding breath or circulation; released on bond after 14 hours.

Kendall Younger, 24, of Kerrville; arrested 5:15 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after 13 hours.

Edwin Ybarra, 40, of Victoria, Texas; arrested 4:45 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Victoria County for child support violation; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

Serafin Miranda, 61, of Austin; arrested 9:50 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by the Pardon and Parole Board in Austin for driving while intoxicated with prior convictions; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

Ovidio Navarro Jr., 27, of Cotulla; arrested 9:14 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, by the Encinal PD; warrant issued for failure to appear in court of charges of driving without a license and failing to maintain financial responsibility; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

Veronica Garcia, 29, of Cotulla; arrested 9:14 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, by the Encinal PD; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for violating a promise to appear in court; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

Ricardo Soto, 46, of Encinal; arrested 1:37 a.m. Monday, Sept. 11, by the Encinal PD; state jail felony possession of a controlled substance up to one gram, Class A misdemeanor possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia; remains in jail as of Sept, 11.

Javier Rangel, 27, of Encinal; arrested 1:37 a.m. Monday, Sept. 11, state jail felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1, up to one gram in weight; remains in jail as of Sept. 11.

*Addendum: those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Alfonso Trevino III, released on bond after 90 days, 16 hours; Julian Mojica Jr., released on bond after 89 days, ten hours; Jairo Omar Hernandez, court-ordered release after 79 days, 20 hours; Rolando Gabriel Gomez, released on bond after 21 days, two hours; Ibran Antonio Idrogo; released on bond after 42 days, one hour; Francisco Martinez, released after 21 days, 21 hours; Rudy Michael Sosa, released on bond after 30 days, 14 hours; and Leticia Aguilar, released on bond after two days, four hours.

September 7, 2017

JP signs new warrants

By Marc Robertson
La Salle County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez is signing arrest warrants this week for nine individuals who have failed to meet court obligations or make appearances before a judge when ordered.

Those for whom warrants are signed will be subject to immediate arrest at home, at work, or in the course of a routine traffic stop when they are identified by a law enforcement officer.

Additional charges of failing to appear in court may be filed against those who are arrested.

The following will be listed as wanted following issuance of warrants:

Robert Peterson, 67, of Cotulla; Class C misdemeanor assault, violating a promise to appear in court, traffic violation, driving while license is not valid.

William Jeffrey Williams, 48, of Three Rivers, Texas; failure to appear in court, speeding.

Alexandro Javier Lara, 24, of Corpus Christi, Texas; violating a promise to appear in court, speeding.

Elpidio M Rodriguez, 34, of Cotulla; child safety seat violation, driving without a license.

Leticia Villa Galvan, 56, of Cotulla; driving without a license.

Wesley Robert Morningstar, 47, of Pearsall; driving without a commercial license, speeding.

Guadalupe Rodriguez, 35, of Mathis, Texas; failing to maintain financial responsibility, speeding.

Tyron Hector Roman, 24, of Cotulla; driving without a license.

Eloy Saenz Jr., 34, of Edinburg, Texas; failure to appear in court, driving while license is not valid.

All those listed are required to appear before the justice of the peace at her office on Center Street in downtown Cotulla and have forfeited the right to make arrangements by telephone. A telephone call does not constitute a court appearance.

September 7, 2017

The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office picked up a wild cow, approximately three years old, 900 lbs., hornless, striped, with no brands or distinguishing marks, on August 29 on Stephenson Road north of Gardendale. The cow is held at the Pearsall Livestock Auction and will be subject to sale if unclaimed. Claimants should call the sheriff’s office at (830) 879-3044.

Notice of Estray

August 14, 2017

JP signs warrants for court dodgers

By Marc Robertson
La Salle County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez is signing arrest warrants this week for those who have failed to make appearances in court or who have failed to meet court obligations.

Those listed will be subject to arrest at home, at work or in the course of routine traffic stops if they are identified by a law enforcement officer.

Warrants are being signed for the following:

Christian Oliver Alaniz, 44, of Cotulla; driving without a license, speeding, seatbelt violation.

Christopher Andrew Sandoval, 23, Willmar, Minnesota; two counts of failing to appear in court, failing to maintain financial responsibility, driving with defective tail lamps.

Oscar Trevino Jr., 41, of Cotulla; public intoxication, failing to maintain financial responsibility, driving with expired vehicle registration, family violence assault.

Coby Delane Russell, 41, of Corpus Christi, Texas; violating a promise to appear in court, speeding.

Chad Edward May, 42, of Cotulla; speeding.

Jorge Alejandro Escobedo, 41, of Laredo; two counts of failing to appear in court, failing to maintain financial responsibility, driving without a license.

Alejandra Cerda, 41, of Cotulla; driving with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, two counts of contributing to non-attendance.

Rafael Garcia Jr., 50, of Bishop, Texas; failing to secure cargo, speeding, traveling with excess weight.

Mario Hugo Garcia, 42, of Cotulla; turning violation, violating a promise to appear in court, driving while license is not valid, possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia.

Alethea Yvette Harris, 29, of Hebbronville, Texas; failing to maintain financial responsibility, speeding.

All those who believe they may have outstanding citations or who have missed court appointments should visit the justice of the peace’s office on Center Street beside Veterans Park in downtown Cotulla immediately to avoid facing additional charges.

A telephone call does not constitute a court appearance; all those for whom arrest warrants are being signed have forfeited the right to make arrangements by telephone.  

August 14, 2017

Arrests, 
Aug. 7-14:
Eight in jail

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office is listing eight individuals as having been taken into custody at the county jail in Cotulla over the past week on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges as well as on arrest warrants for failure to meet court obligations.

Arrests between Monday, August 7, and Monday, Aug. 14, were made by sheriff’s deputies and by officers of the Cotulla Patrol Division and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Those taken into custody, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, were as follows:

Antonio Moreno, 26, of Uvalde; arrested 2:01 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, by the Cotulla City Patrol; first-degree felony aggravated robbery; released on bond after two days, 14 hours.

Rudy Michael Sosa, 29, of Encinal; arrested 4:12 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, by the Sheriff’s Office; third-degree felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana, warrant issued in La Salle District Court for probation violation on original charge of marijuana possession; remains in jail as of Aug. 14.

Jose Emilio Esquivel, 23, of Zapata, Texas; arrested 7:55 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for misdemeanor speeding; released after eight hours on promise to pay fines.

Victor Orlando Velasco, 29, of Cotulla; arrested 7:25 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle District Court for state jail felony failure to meet a court obligation, warrant issued in Dallas County for manufacture and/or delivery of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; remains in jail as of Aug. 14.

Juan Antonio Lopez, 27, of Austin; arrested 6:15 a.m. Friday, Aug. 11, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid with a previous conviction; released on bond after ten hours.

Ernesto Rodriguez, 42, of Cotulla; arrested 5:08 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; released on bond after 15 hours.

Leticia Aguilar, 50, of Cotulla; arrested 2:17 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; remains in jail as of Aug. 14.

Abbie Lea Stephenson, 58, of Springtown, Texas; arrested 6:50 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; six months’ sentencing in TDCJ substance abuse treatment program; remains in custody as of Aug. 14.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Brandon Lee Ruiz, transferred after 48 days, 17 hours; Jesus R. Alvarado, scheduled release after 15 days, seven hours; Pamela Denise Lopez, court-ordered release after 14 days, seven hours; Daniel Salazar, released on bond after ten days, 18 hours; Jose Antonio Hernandez, released on bond after four days, 14 hours; Shannon Renee Pannell, transferred after four days, 12 hours; Gregory Alfred Draeger, transferred after three days, 17 hours; and Joseph Lee Hernandez, released on bond after 22 hours.  

August 11, 2017

"Watch for obvious signs of tampering..."

New card skimmers in Cotulla:
Deputies investigate further thefts

By Marc Robertson
La Salle County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Rickey Galvan reported on Friday, August 11, that a number of highway travelers and local residents may have suffered losses to their credit or debit card accounts through skimmers that have been placed illegally at truck stop gas pumps.

The sergeant said at least four complaints were lodged in a single day this week by credit card owners whose accounts had been pilfered immediately after they used pay-at-the-pump facilities to refuel their vehicles at local stations.

Among the complaints is an incident on Thursday, August 10, involving the alleged theft of $400 from a card after a customer used it to pay for fuel at a truck stop in Cotulla. A further attempt at stealing $1,000 from the customer’s account was foiled, Sgt. Galvan said, because the card holder had been alerted to the fund withdrawal and had blocked the card.

“What we are dealing with here is a new surge in the number of times illegal card skimmers have been used,” Sgt. Galvan said, adding that investigations into the skimmers’ origins are ongoing. “We are looking into how these skimmers were placed at the pumps and how long they might have been there. In the meantime, we need all card holders to be extra careful.”

The sergeant is recommending that gas station customers avoid using pay-at-the-pump facilities if possible and to use their cards at the cash register inside the store. He also noted that card holders should avoid letting cards out of their sight and never let others handle their cards.

“If you are going to pay at the pump, you need to be aware that the risk of theft is presently elevated,” Sgt. Galvan said Friday. “You need to watch for obvious signs of tampering at the gas pump and you need to be sure the gas station’s actual card reader has not been damaged.”

The sheriff’s office is recommending that gas station customers observe whether inspection seals on gas pumps are still intact and avoid using pumps whose seals show evidence of tampering, on which the word ‘Void’ is visible, or which appear to have been peeled or cut.

Gas pump security seals are found at the edges of the pump display screens and service panels and should be clearly visible to customers. Evidence of tampering at the card readers on the pumps may include loose parts or the apparent addition of external components.

The sheriff’s office is continuing its investigation into the origins of a credit card skimmer that was found inside a gas pump at the Max-E-Mart Exxon station at the intersection of IH-35 and FM 468 last month.

A credit card skimmer is a device that reads a customer’s card number separately from the routine payment machine in which a credit or debit card is used. Card skimmers may store customers’ account numbers and other codes for later retrieval or may transmit them to a receiver in a remote location, allowing thieves to begin tapping funds from card accounts within moments of customers using them.

Card readers are available for purchase by the general public and can be found online from a number of manufacturers.

“Anyone using a credit or debit card needs to keep track of their purchases and to alert the credit card company or bank immediately in the event of any unauthorized withdrawals or purchases,” the sergeant said. “Many cards today have added features that include immediate cellphone alerts, notifying the card holder where, when, and for how much every purchase or deposit was made.

“If your card has that feature, use it,” Galvan said. “Everybody needs to be additionally vigilant these days and pay close attention to activity on their cards.”
  

August 7, 2017

Arrests,
July 31 -
Aug. 7:
27 in jail

By Marc Robertson
Twenty-seven individuals were taken into custody in La Salle County over the past week on charges ranging from traffic offenses to assault and failure to make court appearances, in addition to those being held in custody on behalf of other counties.

Arrests were made by La Salle County deputies and officers of the Cotulla City Patrol, troopers of the Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol and officers of the Encinal Police Department.

One man was arrested the day after he had been released from jail. Another died while in custody, succumbing to long-term health issues unrelated to his arrest.

Those taken into custody between Monday, July 31, and Monday, August 7, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, are as follows:

Augustine Ortiz, 26, of Nursery, Texas; arrested 6:40 p.m. Monday, July 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid, with a previous conviction; released on bond after 21 hours.

Ransley Bailey, 30, of Oklahoma; arrested midnight Monday, July 31, by the Cotulla City Patrol; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after one day, 18 hours.

James Dean Davis, 42, of Cotulla; arrested 2:20 p.m. Monday, July 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County Court for theft up to $750 in value; deceased after 16 hours.

Jared Ross Ramirez, 35, of Cotulla; arrested 2:36 p.m. Monday, July 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet court obligations on charges of driving with an open container of alcohol and speeding, warrant issued in La Salle District Court for nonpayment of child support; released on bond after three days, 23 hours.

Daniel Salazar, 44, of Cotulla; arrested 10:43 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, by the Cotulla City Patrol; first-degree felony aggravated assault with a weapon upon a family or household member; remains in jail as of Aug. 7.

Isaiah Oscar Mendez, 22, of Cotulla; arrested 3:15 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failure to appear in court; released after five hours.

Timothy David Hovis, 60, of Cloquet, Minnesota; arrested 1:20 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor obstructing a highway; transferred after 16 hours.

Ruben Salinas Jr., 29, of Cotulla; arrested 9:45 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to comply or appear in court, disorderly conduct and driving while license is suspended; released after one day, one hour on promise to pay fines.

Antonio Garcia Jr., 35, of Cotulla; arrested 9:26 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for seven counts of failing to meet a court obligation on charges of failing to appear in court, two counts of driving with an expired registration, failing to maintain financial responsibility, driving with an unrestrained child, driving without a license, and speeding; warrant issued in Medina County for failing to appear in court on a charge of driving while license is not valid; released after 18 hours on promise to pay fines.

Willy Ann Gomez, 23, of Cotulla; arrested 9:53 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failing to meet a court obligation on a charge of not displaying a driver’s license; released after 13 hours on promise to pay fines.

Jose Guadalupe Castillo, 42, of Cotulla; arrested 4:55 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after 17 hours.

Jorge Murillo Jr., 33, of Helotes, Texas; arrested 7:32 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4, by the Texas DPS; third-degree felony driving while intoxicated, third or more offense; released on bond after 14 hours.

Carlos Curi, 29, of Eagle Pass, Texas; arrested 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Maverick County for driving under the influence; released on bond after six hours.

Miguel Angel Sigala-Duran, 20, of Fort Worth, Texas; arrested 8:25 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4, by the Texas DPS; warrants issued in Tarrant County for misdemeanor theft of property up to $2,500 in value, and misdemeanor speeding; released on bond after one day, one hour.

Jose Guadalupe Angulo, 53, of Cotulla; arrested 1:50 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after one day, 16 hours.

Jose Antonio Hernandez, 22, of Encinal; arrested 4:55 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; remains in jail as of Aug. 7.

Henry Arthur Kempf Jr., 58, of Grand Junction, Colorado; arrested 8:50 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, by the Texas DPS; third-degree felony theft of property up to $150,000 in value; released on bond after 12 hours.

Sandra Madrigal, 39, of Cotulla; arrested 10:27 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, by the Cotulla City Patrol; Class B misdemeanor reckless driving; released on bond after 19 hours.

Shannon Renee Pannell, 40, of San Antonio; arrested 10:27 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, by the Encinal PD; warrants issued in Bexar County for motion to revoke probation on a charge of possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1, and theft by check up to $500 in value, and warrant issued in Sacramento County for violation of probation; remains in jail as of Aug. 7.

Luis Alberto Lopez, 36, of Laredo; arrested 10:20 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, by the Texas DPS; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for speeding and violating a promise to appear in court; released on bond after ten hours.

Roxana Canales, 29, of Cotulla; arrested 2:36 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for driving without a license and failing to maintain financial responsibility, second offense; released on bond after six hours.

Federico F. Gonzalez, 37, of Cotulla; arrested 12:56 a.m. Monday, Aug. 7, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor reckless driving; released on bond after 17 hours.

Ricardo Sierra, 29, of Laredo; arrested 12:40 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for revocation of probation and failure to appear in court on a marijuana possession charge; remains in jail as of Aug. 7.

Elidio Gerardo Maldonado, 33, of Cotulla; arrested 12:50 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for failure to meet court obligations on charges of driving without a license and failing to drive in a single lane of traffic; released on bond after six hours.

Gregory Alfred Draeger, 34, of Sunset, Texas; brought into La Salle County custody 3:13 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, by the Sheriff’s Office; in-state blue warrant; remains in custody as of Aug. 7.

Joseph Lee Hernandez, 20, of Encinal; arrested 8:11 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, by the Encinal PD; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to appear in court on a charge of family violence assault causing bodily injury; remains in jail as of Aug. 7.

Derly Jesus Lopez, 44, of Encinal; arrested 8:18 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, by the Encinal PD; Class A misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after two hours.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Mario Zuniga Jr., released on bond after 22 days, 18 hours; Matthew Ali De La Cruz, released on bond after 12 hours; and Timothy David Hovis, released on bond after one day, 16 hours.     

July 31, 2017

Arrests,
July 24-31:
Officers cuff 17

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that 17 individuals were taken into custody over the past week, with arrests made by sheriff’s deputies, officers of the Cotulla City Patrol and the Encinal Police Department, the county constable, and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.

Charges included misdemeanors and felonies as well as warrants for failure to meet court obligations.

One man was taken into custody on trespass and vehicle theft charges the day after being released from a 30-day jail stint on criminal mischief and trespass charges.

Those jailed between Monday, July 24, and Monday, July 31, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, are as follows:

Jesus Orlando Ortiz Jr., 38, of Cotulla; arrested 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, by the Sheriff’s Office; third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1, warrant issued in La Salle District Court for nonpayment of child support; remains in jail as of July 31.

Rolando Gabriel Ramirez, 36, of Cotulla; arrested 4:55 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for two counts of nonpayment of child support; remains in jail as of July 31.

Jesus R. Alvarado, 47, of Cotulla; arrested 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, July 26, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, two counts of Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; remains in jail as of July 31.

Hermelinda Aracelia Gonzalez, 52, of Cotulla; arrested 8:10 p.m. Wednesday, July 26, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Cotulla Municipal Court for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia; released on bond after 15 hours.

Pamela Denise Lopez, 24, of Cotulla; arrested 1:30 a.m. Thursday, July 27, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for violating a promise to appear in court, possession of drug paraphernalia, and bail jumping; remains in jail as of July 31.

Javier Lee Gonzalez Jr., 28, of Alice, Texas; arrested 11:30 p.m. Thursday, July 27, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for speeding and driving while license is not valid, and bond forfeiture warrant issued in Jim Wells County; released after 17 hours on promise to pay fines.

Roberto Alfonso Ramos, 33, of Corpus Christi, Texas; arrested 1:13 a.m. Friday, July 28, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after 11 hours.

David Ramos Jr., 23, of Kingsville, Texas; arrested 2:45 a.m. Friday, July 28, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after seven hours.

Ashley Lynn Gonzalez, 31, of Cotulla; arrested 6:20 p.m. Friday, July 28, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving while license is not valid; court-ordered release after two hours.

George Barry Dyer, 71, of Fowlerton; arrested 9:48 p.m. Friday, July 28, by Precinct 4 Constable; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after one day, 18 hours.

Ibran Antonio Idrogo, 20, of Laredo; arrested Friday, July 28 (time not listed), by the Cotulla City Patrol; first-degree felony possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; remains in jail as of July 31.

Annette Elizondo, 33, of Cotulla; arrested 2:02 a.m. Saturday, July 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for failure to meet court obligations on charges of driving with expired license plates, failing to maintain financial responsibility, and driving while license id not valid; court-ordered release after eight hours.

Elias Isaiah Esparza, 20, of Cotulla; arrested 4:25 a.m. Saturday, July 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor fleeing from a peace officer; released on bond after 14 hours.

Francisco Martinez, 52, of Cotulla; arrested 5 p.m. Saturday, July 29, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor public intoxication with three prior convictions; remains in jail as of July 31.

Jose Eloy Salazar, 21, of Sinton, Texas; arrested 6:29 p.m. Saturday, July 29, by the Encinal PD; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after 17 hours.

Matthew Ali De La Cruz, 22, of San Antonio; arrested 8:08 p.m. Sunday, July 30, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana, Class B misdemeanor falsifying a drug test or device; remains in jail as of July 31.

Timothy David Havis, 60, (address not listed); arrested 11:32 p.m. Sunday, July 30; misdemeanor disorderly conduct, Class B misdemeanor failure to identify or giving false information; remains in jail as of July 31.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released of transferred include Jimmy Flores Gutierrez, released on bond after 29 days, 18 hours; Jesus R. Alvarado, released on bond after 30 days, two hours; Hugo Salinas Hernandez, transferred after 18 days, one hour; Remigio Leal Guillen, released on bond after 18 days, 21 hours; Leonel Arizola, released on bond after eight days, four hours; Ricardo Cardenas, released on bond after four days, eight hours; and Jesus Hernandez, released on bond after four days, seven hours.

July 28, 2017

Was cowboy going to ride at Seguin?

Traffic stop yields $310K cocaine cargo

By Marc Robertson
The routine traffic stop of a northbound truck towing a horse trailer between Laredo and Seguin on Thursday morning, July 28, resulted in the discovery of a 25-lb. cocaine cargo worth an estimated $310,000, according to the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy Armando Lopez was conducting traffic patrol on IH-35 near Milemarker 76 at Millett shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday and said that he noticed a late-model Dodge four-door pickup truck towing a horse trailer whose taillights appeared to be faulty, the sheriff’s office reported.

At the wheel of the truck, 20-year-old Ibran Antonio Idrogo of Laredo told the officer that he was taking a horse to a rodeo in Seguin and that he had borrowed the vehicle for the trip. The driver gave the officer written consent to examine the truck and trailer.

Deputy Lopez was joined at the traffic stop by La Salle Cpl. Anthony Zertuche and by agents of the US Border Patrol, whose drug-detecting dog alerted officers to the possible presence of contraband in the trailer, which was occupied by a horse.

A report on the case shows that officers noted an anomaly in a spare tire on the horse trailer and that closer inspection revealed signs of tampering. The truck and trailer were taken to the US Border Patrol station at Cotulla, where the tire was found to have been stuffed with bundles of cocaine.

Idrogo was remanded into custody on a first-degree felony charge of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1. He was transported without further incident to the La Salle County Jail and remained behind bars as of Tuesday, August 1. The horse was taken care of at a ranch near Cotulla, where it was sheltered until transportation could be arranged.
Felony drug charge:
Ibran Idrogo
Officers extract the first of several cocaine bundles from a tire after a traffic stop on IH-35 July 28

July 27, 2017

Broke a window,
assaulted other inmates...

New charges for robbery detainee after jailbreak attempt

By Marc Robertson
Misdemeanor charges have been filed against La Salle County Jail detainee Rodolfo Ismael Garcia, who reportedly attempted breaking out of confinement on Thursday, July 27, and caused injury to other inmates.

Garcia, 31, has been held behind bars since early July in connection with the robbery of a convenience store in downtown Cotulla.
County jail assault:
Rodolfo Ismael Garcia

The detainee allegedly made an escape attempt from his cell at the county jail in Cotulla on Thursday afternoon and broke a door frame and a window, causing laceration injuries to an inmate in an adjoining cell, and then struck an inmate in the abdomen and another in the shoulder with a piece of metal.

Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the county jail to subdue Garcia, who was subsequently restrained and placed in an isolation cell. Medics of the La Salle County Fire Rescue & EMS were then dispatched to transport an inmate to Frio Regional Hospital in Pearsall for treatment of an eye injury.

Garcia had originally been arrested Saturday night, July 1, after he returned to a store on Main Street that he had allegedly robbed five days previously. The suspect is accused of telling a cashier that he was armed and then leaving with more than $460 worth of goods from the store on Monday morning, June 26. The same cashier recognized Garcia in the store on the night of Cotulla’s Independence Day festival and called the sheriff’s office. Garcia was apprehended a short distance from the store and has remained in custody since.

The sheriff’s office has indicated that Thursday’s incident at the jail was sparked by an ongoing feud between Garcia and other inmates.

Garcia has been charged with three counts of assault causing bodily injury and one count of criminal mischief in the wake of Thursday’s incident and may face additional charges pending an investigation by the sheriff’s office.

July 26, 2017

Less than 24 hours
out of jail...

Alvarado back behind bars
after truck theft

By Marc Robertson
A Cotulla man was remanded into custody before noon Wednesday, July 26, on charges related to his alleged criminal trespass at two homes and the theft of a heavy-duty pickup truck.

Jesus Alvarado, 47, had been released from the county jail less than 24 hours previously after being held for a month in connection with a June 25 case in which he was charged with criminal mischief, criminal trespass and evading arrest.
Arrested for trespass, again:
Jesus Alvarado
Alvarado had been captured by sheriff’s deputies after damaging an electrical junction box, jumping into a pond and then bathing with a garden hose on the lawn of a family home on the outskirts of Cotulla. He was reported at the time to be shouting at imaginary people and horses while washing. Officers caught up with him after he fell off the roof of a barn and leapt into a swimming pool. The suspect later falsely claimed to have swallowed a ball of cocaine.

La Salle Cpl. Anthony Zertuche said this week that Alvarado had been freed from jail at noon on Tuesday, July 25, but was being sought early Wednesday in connection with a new incident in which he had allegedly trespassed on a family member’s property.

It was while sheriff’s deputies were looking for the man that they received a call from a resident on Boutwell Street regarding the apparent theft of a Ford F-250 crew cab pickup truck equipped with a welding machine. Cpl. Zertuche was dispatched to the home and met a woman who said Jesus Alvarado was her husband’s father and could be seen in recorded video surveillance footage stealing the truck from the property.

A criminal trespass warning had already been issued, barring Alvarado from entering his son’s property.

“I observed a video recording that appeared to show a shirtless man resembling Jesus Alvarado walk onto the property and spend about an hour there,” Cpl. Zertuche said. “The man moved a number of items in the carport, including tools and a motorcycle, in order to gain access to the pickup truck.

“The surveillance footage clearly shows the man looking directly into the camera before he drives away in the stolen truck,” the corporal said.

The distinctive Ford truck was spotted a number of times in Cotulla on Wednesday morning. Among those recognizing it were friends of the owner, according to Cpl. Zertuche, who noted that he had also seen the vehicle driving through town but had not been able to see the driver through the tinted glass.

“Friends called the truck owner and asked him why he was driving around town in the Ford,” the corporal said. “When the truck owner said he was lying in bed at home, it became obvious that someone else was driving the truck.”

A report on the case indicates the truck owner caught up with Alvarado when the suspect parked the stolen Ford on Front Street. The truck owner confronted his father and demanded to know why he had taken the truck, according to investigating officers.

“The owner recovered his vehicle and the suspect walked away after apologizing,” Cpl. Zertuche said. “A short time later, employees at Stockmens National Bank called to report that a man without a shirt was standing between vehicles in the drive-through lanes beside the building.”

La Salle Sgt. Rickey Galvan drove to the bank while Cpl. Zertuche approached the property from the south via the parking lot of the neighboring Valero gas station. The sheriff’s officers were assisted in the case by La Salle Constables Rene Maldonado and Oscar Tellez.

“I immediately saw the suspect on the gas station side of the fence,” the corporal said. “He appeared to be peeping through a hole in the fence. We believe he was watching sheriff’s officers circling the area. When I approached him, he put a finger to his lips and said ‘Shhh’ and then resumed peeping through the fence.”

Alvarado was cuffed without further incident and returned to the La Salle County Jail on charges of criminal trespass and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He is being held in lieu of bond.

July 25, 2017

Highway Patrol investigates three-vehicle pile-up...

Two airlifted after morning crash near Fowlerton

By Marc Robertson
A portion of rural Hwy 97 in eastern La Salle County was closed nearly five hours Tuesday, July 25, after an early-morning three-vehicle crash that left several travelers seriously injured.

A preliminary report on the case indicates that two men were airlifted to University Hospital in San Antonio after being extracted from the crushed cabs of their pickup trucks and that five further vehicle occupants were transported by ambulance from the scene.

Emergency responders were dispatched to the site close to the intersection with Hwy 72 near Fowlerton, more than 30 miles east of Cotulla, shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday and arrived to find that two westbound crew-cab pickup trucks carrying oilfield workers had been damaged in a rear-end collision with an 18-wheel tractor-trailer rig hauling a tanker of flammable gas.

First on the scene was La Salle County Deputy Jose Cardenas, who noted later that a traffic logjam had quickly developed on the state highway because of a construction site lane restriction on a Hwy 97 bridge, preventing him from reaching the crash site in his patrol vehicle. The deputy set off on foot and determined that two men were trapped in the cab of a pickup truck that had struck the rear of another pickup, pushing it into the rear of the tanker and trapping two more men. Additional passengers traveling in the rear seats of the crew-cab pickup trucks had climbed out to await medical attention when responders arrived. The tanker truck driver is also listed as having sustained injury and required medical transport.

Firefighters and medics of the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS were dispatched to extract the injured travelers from their trucks with the Jaws of Life. La Salle County deputies and Highway Patrol troopers assisted in traffic control and in rescuing the injured travelers.

Two helicopters were dispatched from Corpus Christi to transport the seriously injured, air services from San Antonio having been delayed by adverse flying conditions, according to the sheriff’s office.

Identities of those involved and possible causes of the accident are being withheld pending an investigation by the Texas Highway Patrol.

July 24, 2017

Arrests,
July 17-24:
Officers cuff 21

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that 21 individuals were arrested over the past week on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges as well as on warrants for failure to meet court obligations.

Arrests between Monday, July 17, and Monday, July 24, were made by sheriff’s deputies, troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol and by officers of the Encinal Police Department.

Those taken into custody in La Salle County, not including those held for law enforcement agencies in other counties, with arrest times logged at booking in the county jail, included the following:

Jesse Anthony Aguilar, 34, of Cotulla; arrested 5 p.m. Monday, July 17, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for misdemeanor failure to meet a court obligation and driving without a license; released on bond after three hours.

Alberto Garcia, 36, of Cotulla; arrested 2:40 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for driving without a seat belt and violating a promise to appear in court; court-ordered release after six hours.

Leonel Arizola, 31, of Cotulla; arrested 2:40 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued for failure to appear in court on a charge of resisting arrest and for Class B misdemeanor probation violation; remains in jail as of July 24.

Kevin Gonzalez, 28, of Cotulla; arrested 2:40 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for misdemeanor failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving without a license and violating a promise to appear in court; court-ordered release after four hours.

Mario Sanchez, 51, of Cotulla; arrested 11:22 a.m. Tuesday, July 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Medina County for theft of rental property, warrant issued in Frio County for failure to appear in court on a charge terroristic threat against a family or household member; transferred after one day, 23 hours.

Daniel Benavidez, 36, of Dilley; arrested 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County Court for failure to appear in court on a charge of marijuana possession; released on bond after one day, 23 hours.

Jose Alberto Rangel Jr., 31, of Laredo; arrested 6:26 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor reckless driving; released on bond after 20 hours.

Juan Carlos Carrizales, 35, of Laredo; arrested 6:26 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor reckless driving; released on bond after 20 hours.

Rubina Ortiz, 40, of Dilley; arrested 8:52 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Frio County for failure to appear in court on a charge of terroristic threat against a family or household member; transferred after one day, 14 hours.

Anthony Luis Salazar, 33, of Cotulla; arrested 10:24 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after one day, two hours.

Joshua Jason Galvan, 38, of Cotulla; arrested 5:32 p.m. Thursday, July 20, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass and Class B misdemeanor theft; remains in jail as of July 24.

Carlos Leon Rivera, 31, of Mexico; arrested 11:42 p.m. Thursday, July 20, by the Sheriff’s Office; felony criminal mischief up to $1,500 in damages; remains in jail as of July 24.

Ezequiel Hilario Vasquez, 33, of Cotulla; arrested 8:20 a.m. Saturday, July 22, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failure to meet court obligations on charges of driving without a license, failure to use a seat belt for a child under age 5, and violating a promise to appear in court; released on bond after 10 hours.

Marisela Gonzalez, 40, of Cotulla; arrested 8:03 p.m. Saturday, July 22, by the Encinal PD; warrants issued by La Salle County Justices of the Peace for misdemeanor failure to comply with a court order, violating a promise to appear in court, driving while license is not valid, and failing to use a seat belt; released after 15 hours on promise to pay fines.

David Israel Gonzalez, 18, of Laredo; arrested 5 p.m. Saturday, July 22, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after 17 hours.

Ricardo Cardenas, 40, of Rio Grande City, Texas; arrested 2:30 a.m. Sunday, July 23, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; remains in jail as of July 24.

Jesus Hernandez, 37, of San Antonio; arrested 3:45 a.m. Sunday, July 23, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; remains in jail as of July 24.

Eduardo A. Velazquez, 41, of Laredo; arrested 8:45 a.m. Sunday, July 23, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for misdemeanor driving at an unsafe speed; released on bond after two hours.

Roberto Ramon, 42, of Laredo; arrested 4:30 a.m. Sunday, July 23, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated or with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle; released on bond after 15 hours.

Jose Jaramillo Salinas, 56, of Laredo; arrested 1:58 a.m. Monday, July 24, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana, misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after 19 hours.

Arthur Sebastian Jasso, 18, of Cotulla; arrested 8 a.m. Monday, July 24, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for state jail felony theft of a firearm; released on bond after 11 hours.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Felicia Ann Llopiz, court-ordered release after 73 days, seven hours; Raquel Ermelinda Salyer, released on bond after 35 days, 19 hours; Quincy Dean Enoch, court-ordered release after 32 days, 20 hours; Jimmy Flores Gutierrez, released on bond after 29 days, 18 hours; Norman Nelson Ramirez, released after eight days, one hour; Saulsilvino Solorzano, transferred after five days, nine hours; and Alberto Castor Jr., released on bond after 23 hours.  
    

July 21, 2017

After card skimmer is found in Cotulla...

Protect yourself from fraud:
Officers remind motorists to check gas pump seals

By Marc Robertson
In the wake of the discovery in Cotulla last week that thieves had installed a credit card skimmer in a gas pump at a local convenience store, La Salle County Sheriff’s Office investigators are reminding motorists always to check for evidence of machine tampering before paying for fuel outdoors.

An investigation continues into who was responsible for wiring the skimming device to a pump at the Exxon Max-e-Mart station at the corner of IH-35 and FM 468; officers have yet to determine how long the device was active in the pump and how many customers may have been defrauded.

A credit card skimmer is a device that records numbers of credit or debit cards when they are used in a card reader or automatic teller. Examples of remote locations where cards are used without a store cashier include pay-at-the-pump facilities in gas stations, bank machines, and parking garage exits.
To date, only one card skimmer has been detected in Cotulla. Officers are asking all gas station owners and managers to exercise vigilance in their equipment maintenance and to ensure that gas pumps remain sealed.
Among the precautions motorists can take to protect their credit or debit card accounts are simple measures such as paying for fuel inside a gas station rather than at the pump, and always checking a gas pump for evidence of tampering. This should include looking for a seal that has been affixed to the front of the pump near the credit card payment slot and ensuring that the seal is intact.

“A security seal should be very easy to see,” Sheriff’s Investigator Homar Olivarez said Friday, July 21. “It should be clearly attached to the front of the gas pump, covering the seam of a control panel. It should not be broken, cut or torn, and it should not indicate the word ‘void’ anywhere.”

Photos: Examples of gas pump seals
The foil-based security seals are replaced each time a gas pump is opened for servicing.

Olivarez noted that customers should also look for signs of tampering at the credit card payment slot on any machine and immediately report any apparent damage to store employees.

“If you pull up to a gas pump whose seal is broken or that looks as though someone has done something to the credit card slot, definitely report it and don’t use a credit card at that pump,” the investigator said.   

July 20, 2017

Suspect in pit bull theft is registered sex offender...

Puppy snatcher admits offense, goes to jail

La Salle Cpl. Anthony Zertuche and Cotulla Animal Control Office assistant JuanTanguma
retrieve seven healthy pit bull puppies from a property where they had been concealed after a theft 
By Marc Robertson
A man who has admitted to stealing a pit bull and her seven puppies from a home on Davenport Street in Cotulla has been jailed on misdemeanor charges of theft and trespassing.

Identified as 38-year-old Joshua Galvan, the suspect in the case is a registered sex offender and was reported by the dogs’ owner as being the one likely responsible for the theft before sheriff’s deputies arrived at his house. Telltale footprints leading from the scene of the theft as far as Galvan’s gate less than a hundred yards distant reinforced officer’s beliefs that he would be a person of interest in connection with the crime.

The pit bull puppies have been valued at more than $100 each.

In his report on the case, La Salle Cpl. Anthony Zertuche said he met with dog owner Ramon Nunez, who claimed that Galvan had already made inquiries regarding the puppies and had asked to be given one.

Nunez reported that he had come home Thursday morning at around 9 a.m. to find that the young dogs and their mother had been removed. The investigating officer noted that Nunez’ property is fenced and that there is a gate across the driveway.

The corporal noted that he spotted footprints in the dirt at the scene of the theft and that he followed the prints as far as Galvan’s property entrance. Galvan, however, was either not home at the time of the officer’s visit or was not responding to calls.

Armed with the theft victim’s complaint and with the footprint evidence, Cpl. Zertuche said he sought arrest warrants for Galvan and a search warrant for the property, all of which were signed Thursday afternoon by Justice of the Peace George Trigo.

Cpl. Zertuche was joined by Deputies Miguel Limon and Juan Mirelez, Sheriff’s Investigator Homar Olivarez, Highway Patrol Sgt. JD Rodriguez and a number of DPS troopers in approaching the Galvan property at around 5 p.m. Friday in a bid to execute the search warrant. The corporal noted that he called on the other officers to assist because uncertainty remained over how many dogs were being kept at the property.

“We have since learned that Galvan approached Nunez after our first visit Thursday morning and confronted him over having called the sheriff’s office about the dog theft,” Cpl. Zertuche said. “The suspect in the case appears to have admitted to taking the dogs and asked Nunez not to press the issue. He offered to return them.”

The officers executed the search warrant and caught Galvan after the suspect tried to flee but became tangled in a barbed wire fence. Galvan provided information regarding the dogs’ whereabouts and all were safely recovered by the Cotulla animal control officer.

Galvan was remanded into custody on Class B misdemeanor charges of theft and criminal trespass. Prosecutors are examining options for revoking probation for Galvan from an earlier conviction.