Sheriff: Two arrested, six illegal immigrants apprehended

Arian Noel Rangel, 37, of Austin (top, left) and Kristine Nicole Gragg, 43, of Pflugerville, (bottom, left) were arrested on human smuggling charges. At right, three of the six illegal immigrants are detained until U.S Border Patrol agents arrive.

A report of a wreckless driver on Interstate 10 resulted in the arrest of two individuals and apprehension of six illegal immigrants, according to Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha.

Leitha said on Nov. 15 a KCSO deputy responded to the call and was able to locate the vehicle and its driver.

“The driver was reported traveling at a high rate of speed with persons possibly lying in the bed of the pickup,” Leitha said. “The deputy located the Ford pickup and observed the pickup traveling at a high rate of speed. The vehicle exited the interstate and pulled into the Shell convenience store located on Sidney Baker just south of Interstate 10.”

According to Leitha, the deputy made contact with the driver, Adrian Noel Rangel, 37, of Austin, and immediately observed multiple Hispanic males lying in the bed of the pickup and others in the cab of the pickup.

“As the deputy was interviewing Mr. Rangel, several of the Hispanic males began exiting the pickup and fleeing on foot. Five of the Hispanic males obeyed commands given by the deputy and remained inside the bed of the pickup,” Leitha said. “Additional Kerr County deputies and Kerrville Police Department patrol officers arrived to assist in conducting a search of the area to attempt to locate the fleeing illegal immigrants.”

Shortly thereafter, Leitha said employees of a nearby business reported seeing a Hispanic male hiding in the area who was eventually picked up by an individual driving a gold Chevrolet pickup.

“The gold pickup began traveling eastbound on Interstate 10, where it was stopped by a KPD patrol officer and a KCSO deputy,” Leitha said. “The driver was identified as Kristine Nicole Gragg, 43, of Pflugerville, and the passenger was identified as one of the fleeing illegal immigrants from the earlier traffic stop.”

Further investigation by the KCSO Criminal Investigation Division revealed that Gragg had been working with Rangel in an illegal smuggling of persons operation, Leitha said.

“Gragg had received instructions to return to Kerrville and pick up the illegal immigrants that had fled from the earlier traffic stop,” Leitha said.

Rangel was arrested on twelve counts of Human Smuggling, a third-degree felony and booked into the Kerr County Jail, where he was held on $360,000 bond until his release on Nov. 17.

Gragg was arrested on one count of Human Smuggling, one charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance PG1 >=4G

“Again this week, human smuggling is touching Kerr County, putting the lives of everyone involved at risk,” Leitha said. “The criminal organizations at the center of these cases are well-orchestrated and becoming more brazen in their disregard for public safety. We appreciate the long hours of work by our KCSO deputies and investigators, and again thank the Kerrville Police Department for their assistance.”

According to Leitha, six illegal immigrants were detained and later released to the U.S. Border Patrol agents. Leitha said additional charges may be added as this investigation continues and, as in all criminal cases, charges may be added or modified prior to trial, and all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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