Law Enforcement
News

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.        
  

July 18, 2017

Wanted in Frio and Medina counties...

Local fugitive jailed after hideout surveillance

By Marc Robertson
Law enforcement officers converged on a makeshift hideout in a derelict saloon bar on the outskirts of Cotulla on Tuesday morning, July 18, to take a fugitive into custody on outstanding warrants from Frio and Medina counties.

Identified as 51-year-old Mario Sanchez, the arrestee was found hiding in the former Star Lounge on Dobie Road, where he had reportedly hidden for a period of time while evading the law.

Sanchez is listed as wanted in Medina County for larceny in relation to a case involving the theft of rental property, and on a warrant out of Frio County for failure to appear in court on a charge of making terroristic threats.

In a brief statement on the case this week, La Salle County Sheriff’s Captain Jose Garcia said he was joined by Deputy Jose Cardenas and assisted by agents of the US Border Patrol and by La Salle County Constable Rene Maldonado in surrounding the building and capturing the fugitive. An investigation into Sanchez’ whereabouts had been launched after information became available indicating that the man had returned to the Cotulla area. Further investigation and reliable sources led officers to the empty bar.

Officers made their move on the building shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday and captured the fugitive without further incident. Sanchez was remanded into custody at the La Salle County Jail to await magistration.

July 17, 2017

Arrests,
July 10-17:
Officers cuff 16

By Marc Robertson
Sixteen individuals were taken into custody in La Salle County over the past week on a range of charges from misdemeanor to felony, on warrants and for failing to meet court obligations, according to the sheriff’s office.

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

Those taken into custody between Monday, July 10, and Monday, July 17, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, included the following:

Mito Rene Rodriguez, 28, of Victoria, Texas; arrested 10:41 p.m. Monday, July 10, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Bexar County for probation violation; released on bond after 16 hours.

Jacobo Enrique Palestrant, 34, of San Antonio; arrested 1:23 a.m. Tuesday, July 11, by the Cotulla City Patrol; state jail felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; released on bond after one day, 12 hours.

Ricardo Alberto Gonzalez, 37, of Laredo; arrested 1:20 a.m. Tuesday, July 11, by the Cotulla City Patrol; Class A misdemeanor failure to identify as a fugitive from justice / giving false identification, state jail felony possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor theft up to $99 in value, warrant issued in Bexar County for felony possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, and warrants issued in Webb County for felony aggravated kidnapping, felony aggravated robbery (three counts), felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (three counts), possession of a controlled substance, and misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury to a family member; remains in jail as of July 11, on hold for Webb and Bexar counties.

Maria Juanita Sanchez, 56, of Cotulla; arrested 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of failing to appear in court and for public intoxication; court-ordered release after two hours.

Kristine D. Pedroza, 25, of Cotulla; arrested 11:51 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor interfering with public duties; released on bond after 22 hours.

Juan Ramiro Sosa, 41, of Cotulla; arrested 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor resisting arrest or transport, warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving while license is not valid.

David Hernandez, 38, of Lamesa, Texas; arrested 7:07 p.m. Thursday, July 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to meet a court obligation on child support; remains in jail as of July 17.

Steve Cruz Jr., 28, of Cotulla; arrested 2:26 a.m. Friday, July 14, by the Encinal PD; misdemeanor public intoxication; court-ordered release after 11 hours.

David Trent Jenkins, 51, of Cotulla; arrested 6:40 p.m. Friday, July 14, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after three hours.

Jesus Daniel Rodriguez, 28, of Cotulla; arrested 7:23 p.m. Friday, July 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana, warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving with expired vehicle registration; released on bond after 14 hours.

David S. Ramirez Jr., 37, of Cotulla; arrested 8:15 p.m. Friday, July 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for failure to appear in court and for failure to meet court obligations on charges of driving while license is not valid (two counts), and traveling with an unrestrained child under age 17; released on bond after 17 hours.

Saulsilvino Solorzano, 45, of Eagle Pass, Texas; arrested 1:50 a.m. Saturday, July 15, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Bexar County for tampering with evidence with intent to impair an investigation; remains in jail as of July 17.

Lorrie Ellen Miller, 57, of Cotulla; arrested 8:03 a.m. Saturday, July 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of speeding; released on bond after two hours.

Mario Zuniga Jr., 25, of Dilley, arrested 2:23 a.m. Sunday, July 16, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony possession of marijuana; remains in jail as of July 17.

Alberto Castor Jr., 37, of Cotulla; arrested 9:27 p.m. Sunday, July 16, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; remains in jail as of July 17.

Remigio Leal Guillen, 28, of Goodrich, Texas; arrested 12:16 a.m. Monday, July 17, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1, warrant issued in Frio County for failure to appear in court on a charge of driving while intoxicated; remains in jail as of July 17.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Luis Carlos Velasco, transferred after 377 days, eight hours; Elliot Anthony Esparza, transferred after 152 days, 18 hours; Todd Dwayne Savage, transferred after 98 days, three hours; Nora Castor, released on bond after 73 days, four hours; Carlos Allala, court-ordered release after 58 days; Oscar Ronnie Rios, court-ordered release after eight days; Isidro Mondragon-Gonzalez, released after ten days; Ernesto Rafael Raz, released on bond after one day, two hours; and Alfredo Gonzalez III, released on bond after 19 hours.     

July 14, 2017

"We don't know how long it was in there..."

Alert: Card skimmer in gas pump; investigators warn of possible fraud

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in an investigation into who may have installed a credit card reader in a gas pump at a truck stop in Cotulla and how long the device has been fraudulently skimming customers’ card numbers.

A preliminary report on the case Friday, July 14, from Sheriff’s Investigator Homar Olivarez and Cpl. Anthony Zertuche indicates that the manager of a gas station at the intersection of IH-35 and FM 468 was alerted to the presence of a foreign device in one of the station’s pumps during an examination of pumps that are scheduled to be replaced.

A card skimmer is used by thieves to obtain active credit or debit card numbers from shoppers and then to drain individual accounts before cardholders are aware that their account security has been compromised.
 
“In this case, it appears that someone installed a single card skimmer in one of the gas pumps at that particular store,” Cpl. Zertuche said of the case presently under investigation. “We don’t know how long it was in there, and we don’t know yet whether skimmers have been installed at other gas stations in this area.”


The sheriff’s office is issuing a caution to all motorists to take extra protective measures for the security of their credit and debit cards at all area gas stations and retail stores. When possible, cardholders should pay for their fuel with their cards inside a store and ensure that the cards remain in view at all times. Cardholders should also keep a close eye on their accounts and immediately report any unauthorized activity.

July 12, 2017

Two travelers airlifted,
including former Webb County JP...

Wrong-way driver dead
in IH-35 crash

By Marc Robertson
The Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol has taken over investigation of a fiery multiple-vehicle crash that took place ten miles south of Cotulla on IH-35 Wednesday morning, July 12, an incident in which one traveler was killed.

Reports from the scene indicated the accident had been due to a vehicle crossing the highway's center median and traveling into the path of oncoming traffic. 

Deputies from the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office, firefighters and medics of the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS, and agents of the US Border Patrol joined DPS troopers at the scene near Milemarker 58 and closed the interstate, diverting northbound traffic to the access road and restricting southbound traffic to a single lane.

Preliminary reports on the crash from the DPS indicate that a southbound 2013 Chevrolet Impala sedan may have veered out of its lane of traffic and struck a northbound tractor-trailer rig. The Chevrolet was then struck by a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup truck. The Ford was destroyed in the collision and began to burn. Two travelers in the pickup truck were extracted with life-threatening injuries before the vehicle was destroyed by fire. Both required airlifting to San Antonio for medical attention. They have since been identified as driver Roberto Perez, 25, and former Webb County Justice of the Peace Ricardo Rangel, 50, both of Rio Bravo.

Officers have confirmed that the driver of the sedan lost his life in the collision. He has been identified as Noe Alex Moreno, 25, of San Juan, Texas.

Information on the crash was made available by DPS Sgt. Conrad Hein.

The Texas Department of Transportation issued a caution to travelers Wednesday morning, advising motorists between Cotulla and Encinal to slow down, observe emergency diversions and expect delays. The interstate was reopened shortly after 11 a.m.

* This story was updated with new information on July 13. 

July 11, 2017

Warrants for kidnapping, robbery,
assault, weapons offenses...

Shoplifter was wanted fugitive, officers report

By Marc Robertson
A case that began with a call regarding a $15 shoplifting offense in Cotulla ended shortly after midnight Tuesday, July 11, with the arrest of a felony fugitive charged with multiple kidnapping, robbery, assault and weapons offenses.

Identified as Ricardo Alberto Gonzalez, 37, of Laredo, the suspect in the case had been spotted allegedly taking a cellphone charger from a gas station on the IH-35 access road and was questioned by sheriff’s deputies while he was refueling a black 2013 Toyota Camry sedan.

A report by La Salle County Deputy Andres Flores indicates staff at the Stripes truck stop and convenience store had seen Gonzalez pocketing a phone charger before he paid for fuel. Deputies approached the man at the gas pumps and asked him about the item. Gonzalez admitted to having forgotten to pay for the phone charger when he had paid for the fuel.

Deputy Flores noted that a pipe appeared to be protruding from Gonzalez’ trouser pocket during the brief interview beside the gas pumps. The pipe was later found to contain crystal methamphetamine. The suspect told officers that he did not know anything about the pipe in his pants and said that he had just picked it up.

Gonzalez is listed as being wanted on active felony warrants in Webb County for aggravated kidnapping, three counts of aggravated robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a controlled substance, and family violence assault causing bodily injury. He is also listed as wanted on a felony warrant in Bexar County for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1.

Sheriff’s deputies examining the Toyota reported discovering a plastic bag containing crystal methamphetamine that appeared to have been wedged between one of the front seats and the car’s center console.

The suspect was accompanied by a 34-year-old San Antonio man identified as Jacobo Palestrant, who denied ownership of the methamphetamine and drug-related paraphernalia in the vehicle, including a number of digital scales. Palestrant is listed as the owner of the Toyota.

Gonzalez gave officers a false name and date of birth before he was correctly identified, according to the report. He also claimed that the drugs and paraphernalia in the vehicle belonged to Palestrant.

Both men were taken into custody Tuesday morning on state jail felony drug possession charges related to the crystal methamphetamine. Gonzalez was subsequently charged with theft and with failing to identify himself as a fugitive from justice. He is being held without bond on the felony warrants.    
Wanted fugitive:
Ricardo Gonzalez
Drug possession charge:
Jacobo Palestrant

July 10, 2017

Arrests,  
June 30 -
July 10:
Officers cuff 20

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that twenty individuals were taken into custody between Friday, June 30, and Monday, July 10, with arrests made by deputies, officers of the Cotulla Patrol Division, the Encinal Police Department, the Texas Highway Patrol and the Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife.

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

Adrian Javier Garcia Jr., 23, of Laredo; arrested 7:26 p.m. Saturday, July 1, by the Encinal PD; Class A misdemeanor possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia; released on bond after 18 hours.

Francisco Martinez, 52, of Cotulla; arrested 10:55 p.m. Saturday, July 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after 14 hours.

Rodolfo Ismael Garcia, 31, of Dilley; arrested 12:57 a.m. Sunday, July 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; second-degree felony robbery; remains in jail as of July 10.

James Dean Davis, 42, of Cotulla; arrested 7:55 a.m. Sunday, July 2, 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 five days, ten hours.

Juan Manuel Gutierrez, 30, of Cotulla; arrested 10:30 a.m. Monday, July 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County (charge not listed); released on bond after two hours.

Oscar Ronnie Rios, 35, of Cotulla; arrested 9:40 a.m. Monday, July 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; detention commitment; remains in jail as of July 10.

Ernesto Rodriguez, 42, of Cotulla; arrested 1:50 p.m. Monday, July 3, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failure to appear in court (two counts); released after one day, six hours.

Ramiro Tovar Betancourt Jr., 45, of San Antonio; arrested 11:26 p.m. Monday, July 3, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Atascosa County for driving under the influence of alcohol; released on bond after 19 hours.
Gerardo G. Cervantes, 37, of Little River, Texas; arrested 9:53 p.m. Tuesday, July 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after 23 hours.

Tyreesha Evazia Walker, 21, of Belton, Texas; arrested 9:40 p.m. Tuesday, July 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia; court-ordered release after 22 hours.
Nichole Rene Holden, 24, of Temple, Texas; arrested 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1, Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after one day, 19 hours.

Isidro Mondragon-Gonzalez, 38, of Richardson, Texas; arrested 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in Collin County for driving under the influence of alcohol; remains in jail as of July 10, on hold for the US Border Patrol.

Travis Cayton Alexander, 35, of Cotulla; arrested 10:05 p.m. Wednesday, July 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; disorderly conduct; released on bond after 23 hours.

Rodney Lynn Buxton Jr., 33, of Kerrville, Texas; arrested 6:40 a.m. Thursday, July 6, (arresting agency not listed); indictment warrant issued in La Salle District Court for state jail felony theft; released on bond after 16 hours.

Christopher Contreras, 33, of Laredo; arrested 3:10 p.m. Thursday, July 6, by the Texas DPS; warrants issued in Frio County for failure to appear in court on a charge of driving while license is not valid (two counts); released on bond after nine hours.

Carlos Garza, 42, of Encinal; arrested 3:44 p.m. Friday, July 7, by the Encinal PD; warrants issued in La Salle County for failure to meet a court obligation on a charge of driving without a license (two counts); court-ordered release after one day, 18 hours.

Hugo Salinas Hernandez, 47, of Cotulla; arrested 4 p.m. Friday, July 7, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle District Court for failure to appear in court on two counts of felony assault on a public servant; remains in jail as of July 10.

Ernesto Rafael Raz, 37, of Laredo; arrested 6:32 p.m. Sunday, July 9, by the Encinal PD; warrants issued for failure to comply with a court order and violating a promise to appear in court; remains in jail as of July 10.

Norman Nelson Ramirez, 48, of Cotulla; arrested 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 9, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet court obligations on misdemeanor charges of speeding, driving while license is not valid (three counts), and driving without a license (two counts); remains in jail as of July 10.

Alfredo Gonzalez III, 28, of Cotulla; arrested 1:23 a.m. Monday, July 10, by Texas Parks & Wildlife; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for driving while license is suspended or not valid, and warrant issued in Frio County for driving under the influence of alcohol; remains in jail as of July 10.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Belinda Diane Fletcher, released on bond after 27 days, nine hours; Omar Orlando Ortegon, released after 17 days; Jesus Ramirez Jr., released after seven days, four hours; Juan Carlos Hinojosa, court-ordered release after six days, 22 hours; and Esmeralda Ramirez Perez, released on bond after seven hours.

July 1, 2017

Returned to scene of the crime...

Robbery suspect caught during
city festival

Man told cashier he had gun;
made off with over $460 in alcohol,
discs, pickle seasoning

Felony charge:
Rodolfo Ismael Garcia
By Marc Robertson
A man believed responsible for the June 26 robbery of the Cotulla One Stop convenience store was arrested during the city’s annual Independence Day festival on Saturday evening, July 1, after he allegedly returned to the scene of the crime on Main Street.

The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office had been searching for the man for the past week and had alerted other law enforcement agencies in the area that the unidentified suspect had told his victim in the downtown store that he was carrying a gun.

The suspect has since been identified as 31-year-old Rodolfo Ismael Garcia, a native of Dilley presently listing a Cotulla address. He was taken into custody by Deputy Michael Hernandez before midnight Saturday after a store cashier recognized him as the man who had robbed the business five days previously.

A report on the case indicates that the suspect entered the Cotulla One Stop on South Main with a number of other individuals shortly after 9:30 a.m. on Monday, June 26, and began gathering items for purchase, including four bottles of MD-brand alcoholic beverage, sunglasses, as many as 13 DVDs, lighter torches, a flashlight, several tobacco pipes, tubes of Colgate toothpaste, pickle seasoning, and a number of novelties. The man then asked the store cashier for tobacco rolling papers and Newport cigarettes.

An investigator’s report on the case shows that the man engaged in an altercation with the store cashier, told her he was armed, and made off with the goods. He was last seen walking south on Front Street shortly after the crime.

Garcia was listed as being approximately 5’8” in height, of medium build, with black hair and brown eyes. The cashier noted to investigators that the suspect had extensive tattoos on his forearms and a tattoo in small script on the back of his neck. At the time of the crime, he was wearing a white t-shirt, black shorts and black Nike-brand tennis shoes.

The sheriff’s office has confirmed that Garcia returned to the store on Saturday night, at which time the cashier reported recognizing him. Garcia’s charge has been elevated to second-degree felony robbery because he claimed possession of a deadly weapon, although none was displayed.

Garcia remained in custody at the La Salle County Jail in lieu of bond as of Monday, July 3.

June 30 2017

Arrests,  
June 26-30:
Officers cuff five

By Marc Robertson
Five individuals were jailed in La Salle County over the past week, with arrests made by sheriff’s deputies and officers of the Cotulla Patrol Division on a range of charges.

Those taken into custody, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail between Monday and Friday, June 26-30, included the following:

Jesus Ramirez Jr., 25, of Cotulla; arrested 2:25 p.m. Monday, June 26, by the Cotulla Patrol Division; warrants issued in La Salle County for failure to meet court obligations on charges of operating a motor vehicle with an incorrect license plate, failing to maintain financial responsibility (two counts), driving with a non-valid license (two counts), and displaying an expired license; remains in jail as of June 30.

Juan Carlos Hinojosa, 38, of Tomball, Texas; arrested 3:20 p.m. Monday, June 26, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County Court for failure to appear in court on charges of possession of a controlled substance, driving while license is suspended or not valid with a previous conviction, and reckless driving; remains in jail as of June 30.

Jesus Manuel DeLeon, 67, of Cotulla; arrested 4:40 p.m. Monday, June 26, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after 22 hours.

Joseph Daniel Suarez, 25, of Troy, Texas; arrested 8:21 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass, Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief up to $750 in value; released on bond after 16 hours.

Esmeralda Ramirez Perez, 44, of Encinal; arrested 7:26 a.m. Friday, June 30, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid with a previous conviction; remains in jail as of June 30.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Elisema Rivera Jones, transferred after 36 days, 15 hours; Tito Cardenas, transferred after 24 days, 21 hours; Ysmael Tellez, transferred after 24 days, 19 hours; Juan Carlos Vallejo Jr., court-ordered release after five days, one hour; and Jenny Danielle Cruz, released on bond after one day, 20 hours. 

June 29, 2017

Truck driver saw "a hand sticking out..."

Driver faces fed charges after pursuit into Cotulla; immigrants traveled in horse trailer

Laredo resident in USBP custody

By Marc Robertson
A Laredo man has been remanded into custody by the US Border Patrol and is expected to face federal charges of human smuggling in connection with a high-speed pursuit into Cotulla on Thursday afternoon, June 29, and the discovery of nine undocumented immigrants in a truck and horse trailer.

Identified as 41-year-old Roger Ramirez, the suspect in the case reportedly drove through a residential neighborhood at unsafe speeds before crashing and attempting to flee on foot.

A freight truck driver had called the La Salle County emergency dispatcher at around 1:45 p.m. Thursday to report that he had seen a hand sticking out of a horse trailer that was being towed by a dark-colored Ford F-250 pickup truck near Milemarker 50 in the northbound lanes of IH-35, according to investigators. Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to intercept the vehicle.

The pickup truck driver attempted to evade capture by leaving the interstate at Milemarker 65 but found that his path into Cotulla was blocked by a law enforcement vehicle at the Nueces River bridge. Ramirez then drove back onto the interstate and traveled a mile before driving into Cotulla on FM 468, continuing on Leonard Avenue.

With La Salle deputies following, Ramirez drove southeast on Leonard Avenue through five stop signs at intersections until he reached a dead end and steered the truck and trailer into a service alley. He then caused the Ford to crash into a fence post.

Ramirez climbed out of the damaged vehicle and ran the distance of one city block before he was stopped and cuffed by a sheriff’s deputy.

Also traveling in the cab of the Ford pickup truck were two men who have since been identified as a resident of Encinal and an adult undocumented immigrant.

Traveling in the horse trailer were three adult women, four adult men and a teenage boy. All have been listed as undocumented immigrants and have been remanded into the custody of the US Border Patrol.

Medics of the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS were dispatched to treat the occupants of the truck and trailer after the crash. Three subjects required medical attention; there are no reports of serious injuries.

In addition to his federal charges, Ramirez faces prosecution for evading arrest or detention, and a range of traffic violations that include reckless driving.

Assisting in the pursuit and investigation were La Salle Sgt. Rickey Galvan, Investigator Homar Olivarez and Deputies Elvira Gonzales, Michael Sauceda, Jose Avila, Cesar Villarreal and Jose Cardenas, and Constable Guy Megliorino. Troopers of the Texas Highway Patrol also assisted.   

June 26, 2017

Arrests,  
June 19-26:
Officers cuff 15

By Marc Robertson
Fifteen individuals were taken into custody over the past week in La Salle County, in addition to a number who were cuffed and placed on hold for collection by other law enforcement agencies.

One man was arrested for trespassing less than ten hours after having been released from jail, where he had been held on a public intoxication charge. He had also served jail time between May and June on other charges.

Those jailed between Monday, June 19, and Monday, June 26, with arrests made by sheriff’s deputies, troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, the Cotulla Patrol Division and the Encinal Police Department, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail in Cotulla, were as follows:

Abraham Guajardo, 22, of Laredo; arrested 12:35 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in Webb County for larceny and theft of a firearm; transferred after two days, 20 hours.

Pablo Esquivel, 21, of Laredo; arrested 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in Webb County for reckless bodily injury to a child, elderly or disabled person, and for family violence assault causing bodily injury; transferred after two days, 20 hours.

Juan Manuel Trevino, 34, of Laredo; arrested 8:18 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued for violating a promise to appear in court on charges of speeding and driving without a license; released on bond after 14 hours.

Jermain Corey Williams, 25, of Saint Stephens Fork, Alabama; arrested 5:40 p.m. Thursday, June 22, by the Encinal Police Department; first-degree felony aggravated assault upon a public servant, third-degree felony evading arrest or detention with a motor vehicle, Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana, Class A misdemeanor resisting arrest, search or transport; remains in jail as of June 26.

Miguel Angel Vasquez, 26, of Cotulla; arrested 5 p.m. Thursday, June 22, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for second-degree felony injury to a child, third-degree felony retaliation or obstruction (two counts), and Class A misdemeanor purchasing alcohol for a minor (three counts); released on bond after one day, six hours.

Brandon Lee Ruiz, 19, of Dilley; arrested 3:20 a.m. Friday, June 23, by the Sheriff’s Office; second-degree felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, warrant issued in La Salle County for state jail felony credit or debit card abuse; remains in jail as of June 26.

Juan Carlos Vallejo Jr., 31, of Robstown, Texas; arrested 1:40 p.m. Friday, June 23, by the Sheriff’s Office; five days jail commitment; remains in jail as of June 26.

Juan Ramon Perales Jr., 42, of Cotulla; arrested 2:45 p.m. Friday, June 23, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to appear in court on a charge of public intoxication; released on bond after one day, two hours.

Anthony Luis Salazar, 33, of Cotulla; arrested 4:55 p.m. Friday, June 23, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to appear in court and violating a promise to appear in court; released on bond after 17 hours.

Tyron Hector Roman, 24, of Cotulla; arrested 2:20 a.m. Saturday, June 24, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after eight hours.

Jimmy Flores Gutierrez, 27, of Cotulla; arrested 2:07 a.m. Saturday, June 24, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after ten hours. Arrested 9:51 p.m. Saturday, June 24, by the Cotulla City Patrol; Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; remains in jail as of June 26.

Randi Arizola Flores, 25, of Cotulla; arrested 11:25 a.m. Saturday, June 24, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for driving with an expired vehicle registration, driving with an expired motor vehicle inspection certificate, failing to show proof of liability insurance, violating a promise to appear in court, and failing to appear in court (two counts); court-ordered release after one day, five hours.

Jason V. Perez, 34, of Pearsall; arrested 1:52 p.m. Saturday, June 24, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia, Class B misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 2A; released on bond after 21 hours.

Jenny Danielle Cruz, 19, of Encinal; arrested 8:12 p.m. Saturday, June 24, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to appear in court on a charge of terroristic threat against a family or household member; remains in jail as of June 26.

Jesus R. Alvarado, 47, of Cotulla; arrested 10:43 a.m. Sunday, June 25, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor evading arrest or detention, Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief up to $2,500 in damage, Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; remains in jail as of June 26.

June 26, 2017

JP signs arrest new arrest warrants

By Marc Robertson
La Salle County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez is signing arrest warrants this week for a number of defendants who have failed to make court appearances or meet other court obligations after being cited on misdemeanor and other charges.

The following should present themselves immediately at the JP’s office on Center Street in downtown Cotulla and have forfeited the right to make arrangements by telephone:

Gina Rae Aguero, 24, of Jourdanton, Texas; driving while license is suspended or not valid.

Cody Lane Aguilar, 59, of Lytle, Texas; failing to maintain financial responsibility, speeding.

Tito Alberto Garcia, 27, of Laredo; failing to maintain financial responsibility, driving while license is suspended or not valid, speeding.

Carlos Alberto Gonzalez, 27, of Cotulla; violating a promise to appear in court (two counts), driving without a license (two counts), seatbelt violation, speeding.

Myrta Galvan Martinez, 53, of Cotulla; disregarding a signal at a railroad crossing, disregarding a stop sign or traffic signal.

Crystal Olvera, 31, of Cotulla; failing to appear in court, contributing to non-attendance (two counts).

Angelica Renee Rios, 26, of Cotulla; violating a promise to appear in court, failing to maintain financial responsibility.

Juan Ramiro Sosa Jr., 20, of Cotulla; violating a promise to appear in court (two counts), window tint violations, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while license is not valid (three counts), passing in a no-passing zone, failing to maintain financial responsibility.

Miguel Angel Torres, 40, of Dallas; violating a promise to appear in court, speeding, driving without a license.

Joe Delmiro Villanueva, 51, of Pearsall; speeding.

Those for whom warrants are being signed will be subject to arrest at home, at work, or in the course of a traffic stop if they are identified by a sheriff’s deputy, officer of the Cotulla Patrol Division, state trooper, constable or other law enforcement officer. Additional misdemeanor charges may be filed against those who fail to cooperate with court orders.

June 25, 2017

"Shouting at people who weren't there..."

Trespasser bathed with hose, fell off barn, officers report

By Marc Robertson
A Cotulla man was taken into custody Sunday morning, June 25, at a residence on the outskirts of town where he had allegedly washed himself with water from a garden hose before running from officers, falling off a barn roof and then leaping into a swimming pool.

Reports on the case indicate that Jesus Alvarado, 47, had made his way onto the property, connected a garden hose and was washing himself, saluting the American flag and speaking to imaginary people.

La Salle County Deputies Juan Mirelez and Jose Solis were dispatched to the home on Dobie Road before 10 a.m. Sunday and arrived to meet the homeowner who had reported the trespasser. Within a short time of officers arriving at the home, Deputy Mirelez said, the trespasser’s voice could be heard.

“We went to the house in response to a call regarding an unwanted subject partially clothed, washing himself with water from a garden hose,” the deputy said. “We were speaking with the property owner when we heard shouting and screaming.

“Alvarado was on the back lawn of the home, holding the garden hose to his chest with the water running, saluting flags that aren’t there and shouting at people who weren’t there,” Mirelez said. “He also appeared to be shouting at horses.”

Alvarado allegedly dropped the garden hose and fled into the brush barefoot when he saw officers approaching.

“He ran around the house, around the barn, along a fence line, and then he crawled through a set of tractor tires,” Mirelez said. “Then he jumped over the fence and disappeared into the brush before we could reach him.”

Within fifteen minutes of losing track of the barefoot man, the deputies were recalled to the residence, where they were joined by Deputy Jose Avila, in response to a report that the man had allegedly reappeared and had climbed onto the roof of a barn.

“We were on our way back to the house regarding the second sighting when we were told that the property owner was on the phone with the emergency dispatcher and was reporting that Alvarado was on the barn roof,” Mirelez said. “Then we learned that Alvarado had fallen off the barn roof.”

The deputies noted that Alvarado again tried to evade capture, this time running from the barn to the residence on the property and climbing into a non-operational vehicle. Finding that he could not drive the pickup truck, Alvarado jumped into the family’s swimming pool. It was from there that he was encouraged to surrender.

“We understand that this was the first time in many years that Alvarado had been to the house,” Mirelez said. “We are not sure what it was that he wanted there, but there are indications that he may have tried to make repairs to a breaker box, that he disconnected or cut some wires and tried to secure some of the wires and the door to the box with duct tape. There are also indicators that he attempted to steal an all-terrain vehicle and that he took it for a joyride, causing damage to it.”

Officers have reported that Alvarado said he had gone to the property to make repairs to a pond and that he had jumped into the pond and had discovered “sharp metal objects” in the water. There are no reports of the homeowner having asked Alvarado to perform any work at the pond.

The deputy noted that Alvarado exhibited violent behavior while in custody, that he attempted to kick open the patrol vehicle doors while he was being transported to jail, and that he later told staff at the county jail that he had swallowed a ball of cocaine. The man was treated at the jail by medics of the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS but was found not to be suffering any effects from drug ingestion, according to the deputy.

Charges against the man include Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief up to $2,500 in value, Class A misdemeanor evading arrest or detention, and Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass. He remains in jail as of Monday, June 26.

June 23, 2017

Dilley teen in custody for assault...

House guest stabbed in belly
during fight over couch space

By Marc Robertson
A Dilley teenager was arrested in Cotulla last week on felony charges in connection with a stabbing during an alleged argument over who should be sleeping on a couch as a house guest, according to investigators.

Identified as 19-year-old Brandon Lee Ruiz, the suspect in the case is accused of having used a knife to stab a man with whom he had become involved in a late-night altercation when both claimed rights to sleep on a couch as guests of an elderly resident on Carrizo Street.

The La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS dispatched medics to the apartment at around 2:30 a.m. Friday, June 23, in response to a distress call regarding serious injuries to a man who had been staying at the apartment as a guest of the listed resident, Glenn Roberts.

La Salle County Deputies Andres Flores and Mike Hernandez were also dispatched and were joined at the scene by Investigator Homar Olivarez, who noted in a brief statement on the case that it appeared both men had been allowed to stay at the apartment but that violence had ensued in an argument regarding sleeping arrangements.

The report indicates Ruiz had appeared at the apartment during the day on June 23 and had told Roberts that he did not have a place to live and needed shelter. Sheriff’s
Felony assault charge:
Brandon Ruiz, 19
deputies have confirmed that Roberts agreed to let Ruiz stay at the apartment and that the pair spent the evening talking. Late at night, however, another of Roberts’ house guests appeared, demanded to be able to sleep on the couch, Olivarez said, and asked Ruiz to leave.

“It appears they took the argument outside, and that Ruiz had a knife,” Olivarez said. “The other house guest, a man in his mid-thirties, sustained critical injuries, including deep lacerations to the abdomen and arm.”

The injured man was transported by helicopter to San Antonio for treatment.

Deputies investigating the apparent assault interviewed witnesses and determined that Ruiz was a potential suspect. The teen was discovered shortly thereafter and was questioned. Officers then noted that Ruiz was a wanted fugitive and that an arrest warrant had been issued for him in La Salle County on a state jail felony charge of credit or debit card abuse.

Ruiz has since been charged with second-degree felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He remains in custody as of Monday, June 26.

June 19, 2017

Arrests,  
June 12-19:
Officers cuff 12

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

Those charged, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail in Cotulla between Monday, June 12, and Monday, June 19, are as follows:

Jose Pablo Vargas-Castillo, 30, of Von Ormy, Texas; arrested 10:41 p.m. Monday, June 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; bond forfeiture, warrant issued in Travis County, Texas; hold for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement; remains in jail as of June 19.

Jairo Omar Hernandez, 22, of Atascosa, Texas; arrested 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for violating a promise to appear in court, driving without a license, and failure to appear in court on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle; remains in jail as of June 19.

Sheley Mae Mangum, 27, of Cotulla; arrested 4:25 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to appear in court on a charge of purchasing alcohol for minors; released on bond after one day, one hour.

Adam Vitela, 27, of Atascosa, Texas; arrested 12:44 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, by the Sheriff’s Office; bench warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon upon a public servant; remains in jail as of June 19.

Omar Orlando Ortegon, 30, of Kingsville, Texas; arrested 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; detention commitment; remains in jail as of June 19.

Raquel Ermelinda Salyer, 30, of Corpus Christi; arrested 6:10 p.m. Thursday, June 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; remains in jail as of June 19.

Jesse Stewart Cotton, 39, of Corpus Christi; arrested 6:15 p.m. Thursday, June 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after one day, two hours.

Quincy Dean Enoch, 33, of Victoria, Texas; arrested 3:15 p.m. Friday, June 16, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for driving while license is not valid and for driving with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, and warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to appear in court on a charge of driving while license is not valid, with a previous conviction, and for failing to maintain financial responsibility; remains in jail as of June 19.

Arturo Eusebio Campos, 23, of Cotulla; arrested 7:29 p.m. Friday, June 16, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for violating a promise to appear in court, failing to maintain financial responsibility, speeding, and bail jumping; released on bond after three hours.

Carlos Fernando Estrada Jr., 23, of Laredo; arrested 9:01 p.m. Saturday, June 17, by the Texas DPS; state jail felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, Class A misdemeanor unlawfully carrying a weapon; hold for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement; released after one day, 17 hours.

Arturo B Castor, 37, of Cotulla; arrested 2:18 a.m. Sunday, June 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet court obligations on charges of failing to use a seat belt, driving while license is not valid, and violating a promise to appear in court; released on bond after seven hours.

Martin Martinez, 51, of Cotulla; arrested 6:38 p.m. Sunday, June 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; court-ordered commitment for misdemeanor offense; court-ordered release after 13 hours.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Hugo Salinas Hernandez, 47, transferred after 62 days, four hours; John Brian Molina, released on bond after 90 days, seven hours; Jimmy Flores Gutierrez, court-ordered release after 17 days, 18 hours; Gloria Edith Rueda, court-ordered release after 14 days, 22 hours; and Cheryl Franklin Milum, court-ordered release after 11 days, 18 hours.       

June 15, 2017

Community rallies for Gardendale family after fire

Gonzalez couple and four children lost all possessions in home blaze

By Marc Robertson
South Texas area residents are coming to the aid of a Gardendale family that lost its home and all of its possessions in a fire on Thursday evening, June 15, and calls have begun to the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office with offers of funds, food, furnishings and clothing.

Emergency responders were dispatched shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday to a homestead on Oxford Street in the rural trackside community some five miles north of Cotulla to find that fire was quickly spreading through a mobile home belonging to David and Elvira Gonzalez.

The couple and four children, ages 14, 13, 8 and 4, were not at home at the time of the fire, having been at the youths’ softball practice and other functions. The family’s two dogs were likewise not in the home and escaped injury.

Members of the La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS and the Dilley Volunteer Fire Department joined forces to battle the blaze that moved quickly through the mobile home and its addition. The residence and all of its contents have been declared a total loss, according to the sheriff’s office. The fire was largely extinguished by sundown; firefighters remained on scene to tackle hotspots and to maintain a safe perimeter while the remnants of the structure collapsed.
Firefighters advance on a blaze that has engulfed a mobile home in Gardendale on Thursday evening, June 15.
(Courtesy photo) 

"Going to need a lot of help, just to make it
from day to day"
- Rosario Morales
La Salle County Victims' Advocate

Preliminary reports indicate the fire may have been caused by an electrical fault.  

La Salle County Victims’ Advocate Rosario Morales met with family members at the scene of the fire to assess the extent of the loss and has made contact with the American Red Cross in order to secure emergency assistance. Meanwhile, calls have begun coming from all quarters of the community with offers of help, she noted.

"A family with four children who have all lost everything they owned is going to need a lot of
help, just to make it from day to day,” Morales said. Immediate needs include clothing and toiletries as well as financial assistance in securing temporary accommodations for the family. Long-term needs will include housewares, furniture, kitchenware, linens and bedding.

All those offering assistance of any kind or making inquiries about clothing size and other needs should call Morales at the sheriff’s office, (830) 879-3044.   
A mobile home and its addition in Gardendale teeter on the verge of collapse shortly before sundown Thursday. A family of six lost all of its possessions in the fire.
(Courtesy photo) 

June 12, 2017

JP signs new 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 defendants who have failed to make court appearances or meet other court obligations after being cited on misdemeanor and other charges.

The following should present themselves immediately at the JP’s office on Center Street in downtown Cotulla and have forfeited the right to make arrangements by telephone:

Luis Alfonso Pompa, 32, of Dallas; speeding.
Adrian Rodriguez, 34, of Eagle Pass, violating a promise to appear in court, driving while license is suspended.
Ruben Salinas Jr., 29, of Cotulla; driving while license is suspended or not valid, failure to comply with a court order, disorderly conduct.
Alexandra Mariah Sanchez, 18, of Cotulla; driving without a license.
Nathan Valdez, 26, of Pearsall; failing to maintain financial responsibility, driving without a license, violating a promise to appear in court.
Rudy Tom Valenzuela, 27, of Alice, Texas; failure to comply with a court order or to appear in court, permitting an unlicensed driver to operate a motor vehicle.
Amos Terrell Williams Jackson, 32, of Kirby, Texas; speeding.
Jesse Zavaca, 25, of San Benito, Texas; possession of drug paraphernalia, violating a promise to appear in court.
Edna Sandra Jaime, 54, of Carrizo Springs; driving while license is not valid, violating a promise to appear.
Ramiro Garza Rendon, 58, of Rio Bravo, Texas; speeding.

Those for whom warrants are being signed will be subject to arrest at home, at work, or in the course of a traffic stop if they are identified by a sheriff’s deputy, officer of the Cotulla Patrol Division, state trooper, constable or other law enforcement officer. Additional misdemeanor charges may be filed against those who fail to cooperate with court orders.

June 12, 2017

Arrests,  
June 5-12:
Officers cuff 14

By Marc Robertson
Fourteen individuals were arrested in La Salle County on a range of charges between June 5 and 12, with arrests made by sheriff’s deputies, officers of the Cotulla City Patrol 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, are as follows:

Oscar Gilberto De La Cruz Jr., 35, of Cotulla; arrested 2:10 a.m. Tuesday, June 6, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failure to appear in court, driving without a license, driving with a defective taillight, and failing to provide proof of liability insurance; remains in jail as of Monday, June 12.

Abelino Mauricio Montemayor, 38, of Kyle, Texas; arrested 2:53 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid; released on bond after 23 hours.

Jorge Pena, 30, of Cotulla; arrested 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for Class C theft; released on bond after one hour.

Genevieve Ann Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio; arrested 8:52 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, by the Sheriff’s Office; detention commitment; remains in custody as of Monday, June 12.

Rudy Michael Sosa, 29, of Encinal; arrested 9:58 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle District Court for revocation of probation, Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after 23 hours.

Cheryl Franklin Milum, 49, of San Benito, Texas; arrested 9:58 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, by the Texas DPS; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to meet court obligations on a seatbelt violation charge and failing to signal correctly; remains in jail as of Monday, June 12.

Ernesto Jose Hernandez, 30, of Cotulla; arrested 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated with a previous conviction; released on bond after 20 hours.

Roberto Ugarte, 25, of San Antonio; arrested 9:21 p.m. Thursday, June 8, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is invalid with a previous conviction; released on bond after one day.

Jesus Alberto Fernandez, 25, of Laredo; arrested 11:45 p.m. Thursday, June 8, by the Cotulla City Patrol; misdemeanor theft less than $99 in value; court-ordered release after 15 hours.

Jonathan Edward Virjan, 26, of Laredo; arrested 11:51 p.m. Thursday, June 8, by the Cotulla City Patrol; misdemeanor theft less than $99 in value; court-ordered release after 15 hours.

Byron Wade Kahla, 55, of Cypress, Texas; arrested 6:06 p.m. Friday, June 9, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Frio County for failure to appear in court, bond forfeiture; released on bond after 20 hours.

Brandon Lee Munoz, 23, of Cotulla; arrested 10:42 p.m. Friday, June 9, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to meet a court obligation on a misdemeanor charge of speeding; released on bond after one hour.

Belinda Diane Fletcher, 53, of Cotulla; arrested 10:24 a.m. Saturday, June 10, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County Court for third-degree felony stalking; remains in jail as of Monday, June 12.

Horace Dudley Storey V, 19, of Cotulla; arrested 3:08 a.m. Sunday, June 11, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after 11 hours.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Leticia Hernandez, transferred after 17 days, nine hours; Crystal Dawn Williams, released on bond after seven days, 19 hours; Clemen Benito Apolinar, transferred after five days, one hour; Adolfo Penaloza Mondragon, transferred after nine days, 23 hours; and Martin Martinez, court-ordered release after 13 hours.   

June 8, 2017

Fugitive locked himself in car with weed, officers say

By Marc Robertson
A man listed as wanted on a felony warrant from district court in La Salle County has been remanded into custody after locking himself in his car with three bags of marijuana and refusing to comply with officers’ instructions.

Identified as 29-year-old Rudy Sosa of Encinal, the man was spotted late Tuesday, June 6, at the wheel of a vehicle with out-of-state license plates in downtown Cotulla and may have tried to conceal himself from sheriff’s deputies by parking in the driveway of a residence on First Street, turning off his vehicle’s lights and lying down in his seat.

An arrest warrant had been signed on June 1 for Sosa after the man reportedly failed to comply with the conditions of his probation related to a state jail felony drug conviction. Sosa had been sentenced in February to three years’ probation for possession of marijuana and is listed as having refused to pay fines associated with the conviction.   
According to a report on the case, sheriff’s deputies had been notified that the fugitive was in the First Street neighborhood on the night of
Arrested: Rudy Sosa
June 6 and that he was driving a green sedan. Deputies Armando Lopez, Jose Solis and Cesar Villarreal were among those patrolling the neighborhood and quickly spotted the suspect’s vehicle at the intersection of Baylor and First streets. The suspect, however, committed a traffic violation in his attempt to evade capture and was pursued onto First St., where he parked in front of a residence.

Deputy Lopez noted in a brief statement that Sosa appeared to have fully reclined his seat in the vehicle but had left the engine running when he parked in the 500 block of First Street.

Sosa kept officers waiting for more than twenty minutes by refusing to comply with instructions, remained in the car with the windows closed and was observed attempting to conceal a bag of marijuana by placing it under his seat, according to Deputy Lopez. The officer said that each of the deputies at the scene had already spotted the bag of marijuana that was lying in plain view on the vehicle’s passenger seat. Sosa was also observed making a cellphone call from inside the car while sheriff’s deputies were knocking on the windows to persuade him to surrender. 

The officers were assisted by Deputies Enrique Velez and Michael Sauceda in coaxing Sosa to provide his driver’s license. The suspect did so, thereby confirming that he was the man who had been listed as a wanted fugitive.

When Sosa eventually agreed to leave his vehicle shortly before 10 p.m., he was remanded into custody on the felony warrant and transported to the La Salle County Jail. He faces a marijuana possession charge after officers examining his vehicle discovered the bag of marijuana that Sosa had been seen to place under his seat and two further bags of marijuana that had been concealed inside a music player case. 

June 5, 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 defendants who have failed to make court appearances or meet other court obligations after being cited on misdemeanor and other charges.

The following should present themselves immediately at the JP’s office on Center Street in downtown Cotulla and have forfeited the right to make arrangements by telephone:

Stephanie Jacqueline Alcala, 22, of Laredo; speeding.
David A Colchado, 43, of Cotulla; contributing to non-attendance (two counts).
Ira Lee Davis, 35, of Cotulla; speeding.
Gilbert Cruz, 35, of Dilley; public intoxication, traveling with an open container in the motor vehicle, failure to appear in court.
Jose Luis Hernandez, 42, of Cotulla; driving without a commercial driver’s license, speeding, failure to appear in court.
Ashley Celestina Lucio, 19, of Laredo; driving without a license, safety belt violation by a passenger under the age of 17, violating a promise to appear in court.
Tyler James Magliolo, 27, of Shoreacres, Texas; hunting without an upland game bird stamp, violating a promise to appear in court.
Rogelio Mendoza III, 28, of Laredo; driving without a license, speeding, violating a promise to appear in court.
Isaiah Mendez, 21, of Cotulla; failure to appear in court.
Javier Perez Jr, 35, of La Pryor, Texas; window tint violation.

Those for whom warrants are being signed will be subject to arrest at home, at work, or in the course of a traffic stop if they are identified by a sheriff’s deputy, officer of the Cotulla Patrol Division, state trooper, constable or other law enforcement officer. Additional misdemeanor charges may be filed against those who fail to cooperate with court orders.  

June 5, 2017

Arrests, 
May 29 -
June 5:
Officers cuff 14

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that 14 individuals were taken into custody over the past week, with arrests made on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges.

Arrests were carried out by sheriff’s deputies and officers of the Cotulla Patrol Division. In one incident, a father and son were arrested at the same time on assault charges.

Those taken into custody, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail, between Monday, May 29, and Monday, June 5, are as follows:

Crystal Dawn Williams, 38, of Fort Worth; arrested 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for possession of marijuana; remains in jail as of June 5.

Alex Alberto Benavidez, 20, of Cotulla; arrested 2:54 a.m. Wednesday, May 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor purchasing or furnishing alcohol to a minor; released on bond after two days, 16 hours.

Leslie Rene Casillas, 35, of Cotulla; arrested 1:17 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief up to $750 in damages, warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for payment of a fine on a Class C misdemeanor charge of theft; released on bond after eight hours.

Edith Gloria Rueda, 36, of San Antonio; arrested 5:05 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued for revocation of probation for failure to appear in court on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle; remains in jail as of June 5.

St Paul Perales Jr., 59, of Cotulla; arrested 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; court-ordered release after 20 hours.

Tito Cardenas, 51, of Cotulla; arrested 1:05 p.m. Thursday, June 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; serving sentence with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; remains in custody as of June 5.

Juan Carlos Vallejo Jr., 31, of Robstown, Texas; arrested 12 p.m. Thursday, June 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; jail commitment for violating conditions of probation; released after three days.

Ysmael Tellez, 61, of Cotulla; arrested 3:20 p.m. Thursday, June 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; sentence with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; remains in custody as of June 5.

Mauro Santoya, 50, of Cotulla; arrested 2 p.m. Thursday, June 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class C misdemeanor assault; released on bond after eight hours.

Mauro Santoya Jr., 26, of Cotulla; arrested 2 p.m. Thursday, June 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class C misdemeanor assault; released on bond after eight hours.

Clemen Benito Apolinar, 24, of Austin; arrested 12:35 p.m. Friday, June 2, by the Cotulla City Patrol; warrant issued in Travis County for Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; remains in jail as of June 5.

Adolfo Penaloza Mondragon, 23, of Mexico; arrested 12:46 p.m. Friday, June 2, by the Cotulla City Patrol; warrant issued in Collin County for failing to identify or giving false information; remains in jail as of June 5.

Julian Mojica Jr., 37, of Cotulla; arrested 2:42 a.m. Sunday, June 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 (two counts), Class A misdemeanor evading arrest or detention, Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana, Class A misdemeanor resisting arrest or search; remains in jail as of June 5.

Martin Martinez, 51, of Cotulla; arrested 6:46 p.m. Sunday, June 4, by the Sheriff’s Office; detention commitment; remains in custody as of June 5.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in custody and since released or transferred include Alexandra Robles, released on bond after 21 days, 23 hours.

June 2, 2017

Vanished without a trace?

Investigators continue search for clues in oilfield worker's disappearance

John Michael Johnson Jr. has been missing
since summer 2015

By Marc Robertson
More than seven months after putting out an alert for a missing oilfield worker from Marble Falls who was last seen in La Salle County, sheriff’s investigators continue examining the few details that remain of John Michael Johnson Jr.’s life in hopes of tracing him.
Missing: John Johnson Jr.
The father of two was last seen in the summer of 2015 and a search for him was renewed in October 2016 when family members reported to the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office that they still had not heard any news of him and that no contact had been made.

The man is listed as 5’6” in height, weighing approximately 180 lbs., with blue eyes, brown hair, a light complexion and last known to favor a goatee beard. Photographs indicate he has a gap between his upper front teeth. He has been employed in the past by Diamond X Contracting and has had an address in Spicewood, Texas. In 2015, he was living and working in Cotulla; his family members live in the Marble Falls area of the Texas Hill Country. He was born in Austin on December 7, 1978, and is the unmarried father of two children. He is listed as a having a driver’s license issued in Kansas.

Johnson’s criminal history includes an arrest in July 2015 related to a failure to appear in court on a drunk-driving citation. He was released on a $3,500 bond from the La Salle County Jail on July 24 that year. His background shows no known gang affiliation and no history of mental illness. He is not presently listed as a wanted fugitive by La Salle County.

Johnson has been employed by a pipeline company in the past and is known to have operated trenching machines. He was last known to drive a green or teal blue Ford Mustang. Johnson was last seen wearing a black shirt, blue jeans, brown boots and a brown cap. At the time of his release from the La Salle County Jail he was reported as being in possession of checks worth at least $1,200.

With the exception of a brief appearance on social media in early September 2015, Johnson all but vanished when he was released from jail nearly two years ago. La Salle County Captain Jose Garcia noted last October that there were no records of Johnson remaining in the county after September 2015, but also none to indicate that he had moved elsewhere.

“When his family members decided to file a missing person report, they made that report here in La Salle County because this was the last place where Mr. Johnson was known to have lived and worked,” the sheriff’s captain said.

"There is a family in Marble Falls that is still searching for answers..."
- Sgt. Esmeralda Gonzalez

In one of his last social media posts, Johnson indicated in September 2015 that he was fond of a “hoppin’ li’l bar in Cotulla,” which he described as his “home away from home” and where he said he drank Corona beer with salt and lime. He has since made no apparent attempt to contact family or friends and remains listed as a missing person in La Salle County.

The sheriff’s office has been unable to determine which bar Johnson was referring to; investigators are asking that anyone who may have seen the man in a Cotulla bar come forward to help provide details that further illuminate the timeline of Johnson’s life over the past two years.

In a brief statement this week, La Salle Sgt. Investigator Esmeralda Gonzalez said she continues to hold out hope that Johnson will resurface unharmed. The trail that ended with a Facebook post in the late summer of 2015, however, has yielded no new clues as to the man’s whereabouts.

There is no evidence indicating whether Johnson’s disappearance was the result of a criminal act.

“There is a family in Marble Falls that is still searching for answers, and that includes children who haven’t seen their father in a long time and don’t understand why,” Gonzalez said.  

Anyone with information regarding John Michael Johnson Jr.’s whereabouts or who may have information regarding Johnson’s departure from La Salle County, place of work or travel destination, should contact the Sheriff’s Office at (830) 879-3044.

May 29, 2017

Arrests, 
May 22-29:
Officers cuff 12

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that 12 individuals were jailed over the past week on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges and on warrants for failure to meet court obligations.

Arrests were made by sheriff’s deputies and troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol.
Those taken into custody between Monday, May 22, and Monday, May 29, with arrest times logged at booking in the La Salle County Jail in Cotulla, were as follows:

Elezar Ruiz Jr., 30, of Laredo; arrested 9:05 p.m. Tuesday, May 23, by the Texas DPS; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for driving while license is not valid and failing to appear in court; released after 16 hours.

Jimmy Flores Gutierrez, 27, of Cotulla; arrested 10:31 p.m. Thursday, May 25, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for operating an unregistered motor vehicle, driving while license is not valid, failure to pay a fine for public intoxication, and failure to pay a fine for driving without a seatbelt; remains in jail as of May 29.

Leticia Hernandez, 31, of La Joya, Texas; arrested 2:15 a.m. Friday, May 26, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; on hold for US Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

Carlos Diaz, 31, of Dallas; arrested 11:25 a.m. Friday, May 26, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after one day, one hour.

Joel Perales, 31, of Cotulla; arrested 7:13 p.m. Friday, May 26, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor family violence assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after two days, two hours.

Erika Lopez, 27, of Cotulla; arrested 4:20 p.m. Friday, May 26, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for Class A misdemeanor theft of property up to $2,500 in value; released on bond after 20 hours.

Alfonso Trevino III, 28, of Asherton; arrested 9:53 p.m. Friday, May 26, by the Texas DPS; state jail felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, state jail felony evading arrest or detention with a previous conviction, warrants issued in Dimmit County for failure to appear in court on a two Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass charges, failure to appear in court on a Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief charge, failure to appear in court on a Class A misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, third-degree felony obstruction or retaliation, Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass, state jail felony evading arrest or detention with a previous conviction, and warrant issued in Zavala County for second-degree felony aggravated assault causing bodily injury; remains in jail as of May 29.

Lucinda Garcia, 37, of Cotulla; arrested 5 a.m. Saturday, May 27, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid with a previous conviction, warrant issued in La Salle County for payment of a fine for speeding; released on bond after nine hours.

Annette Elizondo, 33, of Cotulla; arrested 11:28 a.m. Saturday, May 27, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to pay a fine on a charge of driving with an expired registration; released on bond after five hours.

Juan Ramiro Sosa, 41, of Cotulla; arrested 3:20 p.m. Saturday, May 27, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failing to pay fines on charges of driving while license is not valid, and two counts of violating a promise to appear in court; court-ordered release after 16 hours.

Julian Mojica Jr., 37, of Cotulla; arrested 2:45 a.m. Sunday, May 28, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia; released on bond after 10 hours.

Chris Caswell Tamayo, 39, of San Benito, Texas; arrested 3:30 p.m. Monday, May 29, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid with a previous conviction; released on bond after four hours.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Kevin Chafik Melendez, transferred after 102 days, 16 hours; Jesus R. Alvarado, released on bond after 89 days, eight hours; Juan Angel Castillo, transferred after 30 days, 12 hours; Angel Lopez Guerrero, transferred to 10-year sentence at Texas Department of Criminal Justice; Cliff Matthews Robinson Jr., released on bond after one day, six hours; and Gilbert Cruz, released on bond after one day, two hours.

May 24, 2017

Public Auction, 9 a.m. Friday, June 2

The following vehicles and material will be subject to public auction by the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 2, in the Sheriff’s Yard on North Main Street in Cotulla:

2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, VIN 2G1WX15K229336336
2005 Pontiac Vibe, VIN 5Y2SL63835Z407933
2010 Ford pickup, VIN 1FTEW1C86AFD55264
2003 Chevrolet pickup, VIN 1GCHC24183E121827
1999 Mitsubishi Galant, VIN 4A3AA46G7XE052202
2008 Chevrolet Tahoe, VIN 1GNFC13008R193977
2006 Isuzu Ascender, VIN 4NUDS13S962701278
2003 Mercury, VIN 1MD2DU66K53ZJ16841
2006 Nissan Titan, VIN 1N6BA07A76N519379
2008 Dodge van, VIN 2D8HN44H68R665158
2004 Chevrolet Cruze, VIN 1G1PG5SB8E7435054
1999 Chevrolet Suburban, VIN 3GNEC16R5XG260576
2003 Ford Taurus, VIN 1FAFP53U43G207199
1996 Ford van, VIN 1FTJS34Y4THA52558
2001 Chevrolet Tahoe, VIN 1GNEC13T71R101159
2002 Chevrolet Suburban, VIN 3GNEC16Z32G169007
2000 Ford bus, VIN 1FDWE35S8YHA72905
2003 Ford pickup, VIN 1FTRW07L43KD14412
2000 Chevrolet SUV, VIN 1GNEK13T6YJ186474
2003 Oldsmobile Alero, VIN 1G3NL52F13C302122
2002 Ford Expedition, VIN 1FMPU16L22LA35484
2003 Ford van, VIN 1FBNE31L93HB22884
2003 Ford van, VIN 1GAGG25U231226789
2003 Chevrolet van, VIN 1GAGG25U731192168
2004 Dodge Neon, VIN 1B3ES26CX4D606581
1999 Ford van, VIN 2FMZA5249XBB73263
Caterpillar tractor loader
International Tractor
Frac tank
County surplus material.

May 22, 2017

Arrests, 
May 15-22:
Officers cuff 12

By Marc Robertson
Law enforcement officers took 12 subjects into custody in La Salle County over the past week on a range of felony and misdemeanor charges as well as on arrest warrants for failure to make court appearances.

Arrests were made by La Salle County sheriff’s deputies, troopers of the Texas Department of Public Safety and officers of the Encinal Police Department between May 15, and Monday, May 22.

One man was arrested less than four hours after being released on bond from 45 days in jail.

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

David Flores, 51, of Cotulla; arrested 9:10 p.m. Monday, May 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor violating a bond or protective order; released on bond after 21 hours.

Manuel Sanchez Jr., 27, of San Antonio; arrested 9:59 p.m. Monday, May 15, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid, with a previous conviction; released on bond after 20 hours.

Marlana Contreras, 27, of Cotulla; arrested 12:33 a.m. Wednesday, May 17, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury; released on bond after one day, 14 hours.

Marcus Duane Tellez, 21, of Cotulla; arrested 2:37 a.m. Wednesday, May 17, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after 17 hours.

Gustavo Martinez Jr., 51, of Eagle Pass; arrested 10:50 a.m. Thursday, May 18, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor accident involving damage to a vehicle greater than $200; released on bond after one day, four hours.

Jose Luis Maldonado, 49, of Cotulla; arrested 2:56 p.m. Thursday, May 18, by the Sheriff’s Office; first-degree felony aggravated assault with a weapon on a family or household member, Class A misdemeanor evading arrest or detention, warrants issued by Justice of the Peace for misdemeanor failing to maintain financial responsibility, misdemeanor displaying fictitious registration, misdemeanor failing to signal lane change, and misdemeanor violating a promise to appear in court, and warrant issued by Wisconsin Department of Corrections for parole violation; remains in jail as of May 22.

Roxanne Heathcock Reed, 54, of Fowlerton; arrested 2:25 a.m. Saturday, May 20, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated; released on bond after eight hours.

Marie Ann Gorman, 26, of Bastrop, Texas; arrested 2:25 a.m. Saturday, May 20, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class A misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 3, misdemeanor public intoxication; released on bond after nine hours.

Ricardo Mendez, 53, of Cotulla; arrested 6:40 a.m. Sunday, May 21, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; released after six hours.

Cliff Matthews Robinson Jr., 21, of Laredo; arrested 2 p.m. Sunday, May 21, by the Encinal Police Department; third-degree felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon; remains in jail as of May 22.

Abel Quinonez, 24, of Pearsall; arrested 4:50 p.m. Sunday, May 21, by the Texas DPS; misdemeanor failing to report a non-injury accident; released on bond after five hours.

Gilbert Cruz, 35, of Cotulla; arrested 6:54 p.m. Sunday, May 21, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana, warrants issued in La Salle County for failure to appear in court on a charge of driving with an open container of alcohol, and three warrants for failure to appear in court on charges of public intoxication; remains in jail as of May 22.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Sandra Esmeralda Rodriguez, transferred after 89 days, 17 hours; Jesus R. Alvarado, released on bond after 89 days, 8 hours; David Flores, released on bond after 45 days; Juan Angel Castillo, transferred after 30 days, 12 hours; Juan Ramon Munoz, transferred after 23 days, 20 hours; Reynaldo Lopez Jr., transferred after 24 days, 21 hours; Charles Dustin West, released on bond after one day, 11 hours; and Abelardo Molina, released on bond after 14 hours.

May 15, 2017

Arrests, 
May 8-15:
Officers cuff 12

By Marc Robertson
Twelve individuals were arrested in La Salle County over the past week by sheriff’s deputies 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 in Cotulla between Monday, May 8, and May 15, included the following:

Daniel Joel Garcia, 29, of Alice, Texas; arrested 6:40 p.m. Monday, May 8, by the Texas DPS; warrant issued in Jim Wells County for state jail felony child support payment, Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid with a previous conviction; released on bond after 18 hours.

Emmanuel Roberto Rueda, 24, of Laredo; arrested 5:02 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated, Class B misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 2A; released on bond after one day, five hours.

Alexandra Robles, 29, of San Antonio; arrested 1:45 p.m. Thursday, May 11, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony warrant issued in La Salle District Court for failure to appear in court, misdemeanor warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for failure to appear in court; remains in jail as of May 15.

Noel Rene Niaves, 56, of Cotulla; arrested 5:36 p.m. Thursday, May 11, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for interfering with public duties and Class A misdemeanor assault by contact; released on bond after two hours.

Victor Orlando Velasco, 28, of Cotulla; arrested 6:23 p.m. Thursday, May 11, by the Sheriff’s Office; third-degree felony tampering with or fabricating physical evidence with intent to impair, Class B misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 2A, warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for violating a promise to appear in court and payment of a fine for possession of drug paraphernalia; released on bond after 23 hours.

Ramon Nunez, 60, of Cotulla; arrested 8:23 p.m. Thursday, May 11, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor public intoxication; court-ordered release after 17 hours.

Deyanira Ramirez, 31, of Cotulla; arrested 6:05 p.m. Friday, May 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for payment of a fine for disregarding a stop sign; released on bond after three hours.

Michael Anthony Luna, 30, of Laredo; arrested 7:20 p.m. Friday, May 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; misdemeanor driving without a license; released after one day, three hours.

Rocky Luna Jr., 34, of Laredo; arrested 7:04 p.m. Friday, May 12, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after two days, 14 hours.

Rolando Gamboa, 36, of Corpus Christi; arrested 9:05 p.m. Friday, May 12, by the Texas DPS; warrants issued by La Salle County Justice of the Peace for violating a promise to appear in court, driving while license is not valid, and speeding more than ten percent over the posted limit; released on bond after one day, one hour.

Charles Dustin West, 36, of Buffalo, Texas; arrested 3:45 a.m. Sunday, May 14, by the Texas DPS; Class B misdemeanor driving while intoxicated or with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle; remains in jail as of May 15.

Abelardo Molina, 33, of Cotulla; arrested 12:07 a.m. Monday, May 15, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid with a previous conviction; remains in jail as of May 15.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Joe Jacob Cantu, transferred after 34 days, 23 hours; Fabian Cordova, released on bond after 29 days, 18 hours; Mark Anthony Ozuniga, transferred after 27 days, 17 hours; Oscar Ronnie Rios, released on bond after two days, one hour.  

May 11, 2017

La Salle County firefighters pick through the debris and extinguish hotspots after a freight truck carrying air conditioner components is destroyed in a blaze on an IH-35 overpass at Cotulla early Thursday, May 11.
(Courtesy photo)

Pressurized tanks explode in fire...

Burning truck blocks highway; driver escapes unhurt

By Marc Robertson
A disintegrating tire, overheating brakes and a shower of sparks are among the possible causes of a truck trailer fire that resulted in the closure of the IH-35 northbound lanes at Cotulla for several hours on Thursday morning, May 11.

Emergency responders were dispatched to the scene on a highway overpass at the Business IH-35 / North Main Street intersection shortly after 2:30 a.m. to find that fire was spreading rapidly through the freight truck’s box trailer carrying a cargo of air conditioner components.

Within a short period of time, pressurized tanks in the cargo began exploding, according to La Salle Sheriff’s Sgt. Rickey Galvan, who was among those at the scene.
Members of the La Salle Fire Rescue were dispatched to fight the blaze while sheriff’s deputies, the Highway Patrol and other officers diverted interstate traffic away from the burning wreckage and onto the highway’s east-side access road.

A report on the case indicates that the truck had been traveling north on the interstate when one of its trailer tires had disintegrated and, although the truck driver brought the vehicle to a halt, the freight truck was blocking a lane of traffic and had begun to burn.

Officers dispatched to the scene have confirmed that a number of other truck drivers stopped their vehicles beside the interstate and rushed to the aid of the
A portion of IH-35 remains closed Thursday morning, May 11,
after a truck burns in the northbound lanes. (Courtesy photo)
stranded driver, assisting her in disconnecting her tractor rig from the burning trailer.

“We are fortunate that no one was injured in this incident,” Sgt. Galvan said. “There was some urgency in detaching the tractor rig while the trailer was being consumed by fire, but the real danger was yet to be revealed, namely the pressurized tanks. They were the source of the series of explosions.”

Northbound traffic was diverted to the highway exit and access ramps serving the Main Street intersection while the overpass bridge was closed during firefighting and cleanup operations that lasted more than eight hours.

No charges have been filed in the case to date.

May 10, 2017

Arrest after crashing in median...

Did suspicious truck stop customer use drugs on highway?

By Marc Robertson
A Laredo man with a history of drug-related charges may have used a powerful quantity of synthetic marijuana while driving between Encinal and Cotulla on Wednesday afternoon, May 10, according to officers who interviewed him after he had crashed his car.

Emmanuel Roberto Rueda, 24, had been at the wheel of a 2012 Ford Focus sedan when it veered out of the northbound lanes of the interstate near Artesia Wells and collided with the cable barrier in the highway’s center median. He was not injured in the crash but was found to be in a confused state and unaware that he had been involved in an accident when he was interviewed by La Salle County sheriff’s deputies.

Rueda was quickly identified as having been a truck stop customer who had caught store employees’ attention in Encinal a short time earlier, according to investigating officers, and a report had been made regarding the man’s apparently unusual behavior.

Among those first to reach the crashed vehicle near Milemarker 56 at around 4:30 p.m. were agents of the US Border Patrol and La Salle Constable Rene Maldonado. Rueda was reportedly seen dropping a makeshift pipe into a soda can when officers found him.  

La Salle County Deputies Juan Mirelez and Daniela Flores both reported that Rueda appeared dazed and sleepy, that he asked repeatedly why he had been stopped and that his speech was slurred.
Rueda admitted during further questioning that he had used K2, a brand of synthetic cannabinoid. He was then found in possession of a plastic bag containing the same narcotic.

Charges filed against the driver include Class B misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 2A and driving while intoxicated. He has also been cited for Class C misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Rueda was remanded into custody at the La Salle County Jail; the damaged vehicle was impounded by the sheriff’s office.

May 9, 2017

Impounded
vehicles

The following vehicles have been seized or impounded by the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and will be subject to public auction if they remain unclaimed:

2008 Chevrolet SUV, grey; VIN 1GNFC13008R193977.
2014 Chevrolet 4-door, silver; VIN 1G1PG5SB8E7435054.
1999 Mitsubishi 4-door, silver; VIN 4A3AA46G7XE052202.
2003 Oldsmobile 4-door, silver; VIN 1G3NL52F13C302122.
2001 Chevrolet SUV, white; VIN 1GNEC13T71R101159.
2002 Chevrolet SUV, red; VIN 3GNEC16Z32G169007.

Claimants should contact the sheriff’s office at 101 Courthouse Square, Cotulla, Texas 78014, or call (830) 879-3044.

May 8, 2017

Arrests, 
May 1-8:
Officers cuff 10

By Marc Robertson
Ten suspects were taken into custody on a range of charges including misdemeanors and felonies in La Salle County between May 1 and Monday, May 8.

Arrests over the past week were made by deputies of the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office 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, are as follows:

Angel Lopez Guerrero, 35, of Corpus Christi; arrested 2:05 p.m. Monday, May 1, by the Sheriff’s Office; sentencing to serve ten years with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Belinda Diane Fletcher, 53, of Cotulla; arrested 2:17 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for Class B misdemeanor criminal trespass; released on bond after one day, one hour.

Nora Castor, 43, of Cotulla; arrested 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; state jail felony possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1; remains in jail as of May 8.

Felipe Viviano Garcia, 27, of Laredo; arrested 7:39 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor reckless driving; released on bond after 17 hours.

Ricky Montes, 23, of Cotulla; arrested 4:15 p.m. by the Sheriff’s Office; warrants issued in La Salle County for violating a promise to appear in court and driving without a license; released on bond after 17 hours.

Joshua Vasquez, 20, of Cotulla; arrested 12:10 a.m. Friday, May 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after eight hours.

Matthew Arron Bussell, 28, of Starks, Iowa; arrested 9:49 p.m. Friday, May 5, by the Sheriff’s Office; Class B misdemeanor driving while license is not valid, with a previous conviction; released on bond after 20 hours.

Celsa Oralia Garcia, 26, of Cotulla; arrested 3:41 p.m. Saturday, May 6, by the Texas DPS; Class A misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 3, Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; released on bond after one day, five hours.

Felicia Ann Llopiz, 26, of San Antonio; arrested 12:12 p.m. Sunday, May 7, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for failure to appear in court on a charge of failing to identify or giving false information; remains in jail as of May 8.

Oscar Ronnie Rios, 35, of Cotulla; arrested 9:30 a.m. Monday, May 8, by the Sheriff’s Office; warrant issued in La Salle County for revocation of probation on a charge of possession of a controlled substance; remains in jail as of May 8.

*Addendum: Those previously listed as still in jail and since released or transferred include Ernest Ruiz, transferred after two days, 19 hours.