Pictured: DPS Trooper Jared Hardwick inspects one of the stolen trucks recovered after a chase Thursday afternoon off Highway 281. OFELIA GARCIA HUNTER

Lawmen discovered two stolen trucks traveling on Hwy. 281; driver fled

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Two stolen trucks found traveling south on Highway 281 Thursday before about 11:30 a.m. resulted in an arrest of a Mexican man and a manhunt for another man who left his truck abandoned off Farm-to-Market Road 1554, Sgt. Albert Martinez with the Jim Wells County Task Force said.

The manhunt, which included the Corpus Christi Department of Public Safety helicopter, Sputnik the K-9, officers from the Jim Wells County Task Force and DPS troopers, centered on an area around Highway 281, FM 1554, the Green Acres community and the Rancho Alegre area with no success.

"The Jim Wells County Task Force is working together with DPS," Martinez said. "We searched on foot, we searched by helicopter and we put the dog out."

According to officials, two Dodge Ram 1500 trucks were traveling southbound on Highway 281 when Martinez called in the license plate for a check.

Martinez said the trucks were reported stolen from the Houston area and that was when he tried to stop the Gray Dodge truck.

The driver, Cristobal Herrera Villalobos from Mexico, sped up and crossed the median, then slammed his truck through a fence as he was being chased.

"The trooper took one and I took the other," he said. "One of the trucks went through a fence and my partners were able to catch him."

Villalobos, 23, was charged with evading arrest and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, Martinez said. He was transported to the Jim Wells County jail Thursday.

The other driver, who was being chased by DPS Trooper Jared Hardwick, turned off Highway 281 onto FM 1554 and abandoned the black Dodge truck on vacant property.

That driver, described as wearing a black shirt and blue jeans, fled on foot into the brush. Corpus Christi DPS helicopter officials were called in to help with the manhunt, which lasted for about two hours. The search was called off about 1:30 p.m. The man was not found.

Both trucks were confiscated and taken to the Alice Police Department to be searched. Officials said the trucks were likely heading to Mexico to pick up undocumented immigrants.