An attempted traffic stop and chase led to Houston police uncovering a human smuggling operation early Monday.
Officers tried to pull over a possibly stolen truck shortly after 2 a.m. on the city's west side, KHOU-TV reports. The truck's driver wouldn't stop, and police pursed the vehicle a short distance.
Shortly after the chase began, the driver and eight passengers jumped from the truck as it drove through a field. Police used a helicopter to locate the suspects, who were detained.
According to investigators, eight of the suspects—who were all previous deportees—were smuggled into the country from Reynosa, a Mexican border town.
"Through the investigation, we learned it was illegal aliens from Guatemala and Mexico," said Lt. J.P. Horelica. "From San Antonio, they were transported to Houston at which time they were picked up by this pickup truck."
The truck had originally been stolen from a hotel near George Bush Intercontinental Airport earlier this month, Horelica said. The driver is charged with evading arrest and smuggling, and more charges could be added.
Police are now checking if any of the eight suspects are wanted for criminal activity.
"If they are not wanted at this time, … they're going to reach out to some nonprofit agencies that we're in connection with for housing for them," said Horelica.