Two men are facing criminal charges and a fourth man is being sought after they allegedly conspired to steal a horse from a property in Devers on Oct. 21.
An officer with Daisetta Police Department was dispatched as the closest unit to a possible burglary in progress at a residence in Devers. While en route, the officer reportedly was advised that the homeowner is a Harris County deputy constable and no one had been given permission to be at his home.
When the Daisetta officer arrived on scene, he reportedly observed several vehicles in front of the residents including a dark-colored pickup truck with an attached blue horse trailer. A Hispanic male was standing with a local judge and a Good Samaritan who had stopped to investigate the suspicious activity at the house.
“The officer was informed that the homeowner owns a horse and that nobody has permission to be there or to take the horse,” according to a statement from Daisetta PD. “The officer was told that three Hispanic males were behind a closed and secured gate and fence attempting to lead a horse to the roadway where the trailer was parked.”
The officer immediately detained the Hispanic male that was standing with the witnesses. As he placed restraints on the male, the pickup truck and trailer with the other two Hispanic males sped away from the scene, reportedly at a high rate of speed.
“The officer left the detained male with the judge and Good Samaritan and immediately began following the vehicle. A Liberty County Pct. 2 deputy constable arrived shortly after to hold the male subject,” the statement continues.
Meanwhile, the Daisetta police officer continued his pursuit of the truck and trailer as they continued to travel southbound on SH 61 toward Chambers County. Other units were dispatched to assist.
A short time later, the driver sharply veered off into a ditch and two Hispanic males exited the vehicle. They reportedly jumped several barbed wire fences and fled east on foot through a field into a heavily-wooded area. With the help of other law enforcement officers, a perimeter was set up to contain the subjects.
A DPS trooper from Liberty County arrived on scene and began assisting in the search. He called for a DPS helicopter to also respond to the area. Several DPS troopers from Chambers County arrived as well as units from the Liberty County Sheriff’s Criminal Interdiction Unit, Liberty County Pct. 1 Constable’s Office, Liberty County Pct. 2 Constable’s Office and Liberty County sheriff’s deputies.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice sent bloodhound tracking dogs and horses to assist in the search. A short time later, one male was found by the tracking dogs as he was hiding under a flatbed trailer in the area. He was detained while the search continued for the second man. The detained man reportedly later admitted to being the driver of the truck.
“While searching, the initial Daisetta officer was contacted by a resident of Daisetta and informed that a family member had a horse stolen the day before in the Ames area by a truck and trailer matching the description of the one that fled from the officer. Upon receiving this information, the officer was provided with surveillance video of the same truck and trailer at the location and time of the horse theft on the previous day,” the statement continues.
The first man detained at the home is Eric Rodriguez Ortiz, 29, of Porter. The driver of the truck is identified as David Castillo-Arzola, 21. Both men were arrested and booked into the Liberty County Jail on charges of Theft of Livestock and Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity. Castillo-Arzola also was charged with Evading Arrest or Detention in a Motor Vehicle. All of the crimes are third-degree felonies.
The Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement was contacted to verify the subjects’ current immigration status. The third Hispanic male was not found but he has been identified as Juan Alviso, 28, of Porter.
“On Friday, while continuing the investigation, Daisetta PD was contacted by the complainant of the original horse theft in Ames and advised that a male was trying to get the complainant to meet them to buy back their horse that was stolen. A controlled meeting was set up and the male subject arrived with the stolen horse in his possession,” the Daisetta PD statement continues. “The male subject was identified as Angel Ochoa Barrientos from Porter. He was immediately detained and the horse was released to its rightful owner.”
Barrientos reportedly told investigators that his stepfather is one of the males in custody from the Oct. 21 incident and that the horse was sold to a woman in Crosby. He reportedly wanted the owner to pay him to get the horse back.
Barrientos was booked into the Liberty County Jail for Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity.
The investigation is ongoing. If anyone knows the whereabouts of Aviso or any other horse thefts in the area that could be related to this case, please call 936-536-6120.