Police Still Looking For Gunmen In Smuggling-Related Shootout

Juan A. Lozano, AP, April 18, 2007

Authorities were still searching Wednesday for the gunmen involved in a brazen and rambling shootout on a busy Houston freeway, apparently part of an attempt to try to steal a load of illegal immigrants.

Jose Amilcar Reyes Guidos, 43, a suspected illegal immigrant from El Salvador, died in the shootout. Another man, Moises DeJesus Mejia, 34, was in critical condition Wednesday after being shot in the head and run over by a truck driven by suspects who fled the scene. Authorities were still trying to determine where Mejia was from but believe he is also an illegal immigrant.

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The shootout, allegedly involving rival smuggling gangs, began around noon Tuesday in southwest Houston on U.S. Highway 59 when a silver Ford truck, traveling north, exited the freeway.

While the silver truck was stopped on the exit ramp, two Hispanic males walked up to the vehicle and began to open fire, using large caliber handguns, said Houston police Sgt. C.E. Elliott.

The silver truck sped down the ramp and approached an intersection, quickly followed by a green Chevy truck

“The silver truck ran the red light and crashed into a Honda. The truck spun out,” Elliott said. “At that point, at least one to three males exited the green truck and began to open fire on the silver Ford truck.”

At least eight people who were riding in the silver truck got out and fled the scene once the shooting began, police said. It was unclear if anybody in the silver truck shot back during the incident.

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The driver of the silver truck managed to start his vehicle again and went one block where he abandoned the vehicle. The truck had multiple flat tires and was riddled with bullets, Elliott said. Guidos was found dead, lying in the bed of the vehicle.

As the green truck fled the scene, it ran over Mejia.

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“Anytime you have multiple people jumping out of a pickup truck and running in all different directions, especially off the 59 Freeway, which is a major corridor for illegal (immigrant) smuggling coming up from the (South Texas) valley, these are some indicators that lead us to believe this could be (immigrant) smuggling gone wrong,” said Scott Hatfield, an assistant special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Police detained two people who fled the silver truck and are still questioning them. They only speak Spanish and are believed to be illegal immigrants.

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