HUERFANO — An experienced human smuggler eluded a group of multi-agency law enforcers last week in Huerfano County following his escape from the Costilla County Jail on September 9.
Robel Turcios-Rodriguez, 27, is wanted on nationwide felony charges. The suspect has eluded capture since he escaped from Costilla County on September 9. He was arrested August 8 and booked into the Costilla County jail on suspicion of 12 counts of human smuggling and resisting arrest.
Turcios-Rodriguez was spotted Wednesday west of Walsenburg, prompting an extensive search of the area with numerous law enforcement agencies.
Huerfano County deputies responding to a suspicious person call on Wednesday, September 19, which ended up in a cat and mouse foot chase through thick underbrush on the west edge of Walsenburg. The foot chase, which ended up including all available members of the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office, Costilla County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, Walsenburg Police and personnel from federal agencies such as the US Marshals Service, ICE, US Border Patrol, and the FBI ranged from the milepost 299 on Highway 160 then through the Mutual settlement to the south.
The situation began when Huerfano County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Milan Rapo responded to a call from a homeowner who found a trespasser in their yard near the Mutual settlement. Lt. Rapo showed the homeowner a photo of the wanted fugitive and the person identified the escapee as the person they had seen.
Turcios-Rodriguez is familiar with human smuggling, having been deported back to his native Honduras four times in the last eight years.
Details on his escape from Costilla custody are vague, but he was reportedly seen on Monday, September 10 in the Ft. Garland area where the FBI said they believe he spent at least one night sleeping in a garage in that community.
One law enforcement commander close to the investigation said he was advised that despite a ‘do not open’ sign that was attached to the suspect’s jail cell door in San Luis, a deputy there inadvertently opened the door and Turcios-Rodriguez took the opportunity to push aside the detention officer and escape. The police official spoke on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak for the ongoing investigation.
As soon as the chase began, Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman ordered a reverse 911 action which can be used to alert citizens in the local area.
As the cotillion of officers scoured the area, Huerfano County Sheriff’s Captain Kevin Vallejos surprised Turcios-Rodriguez in thick brush near the bridge on Highway 160 and the chase was on.
The suspect didn’t even have time to put his boots on, rather, he jumped up and bolted through the brush with his boots in one hand and water bottle in the other. Turcios-Rodriguez eluded Vallejos and HCSO deputy Cory Daniels, who had joined the chase for about one mile. The fast footed fugitive was then lost in the thick brush along a creek in the Black Diamond subdivision area where forward visibility was reduced to approximately 10 feet.
The search was called off for darkness and it is believed the suspect jumped onto one of the slow moving freight trains that move through that area all night.
The escapee was not believed to be a high level public threat. During the days of his escape no burglaries, stolen vehicles or attempted car jackings were reported that might be attributed to him. His flight skills are his greatest asset, which in this case, proved to work.
Turcios-Rodriguez is 27 years old, a Honduran national and is described as 5’6” tall, 119 pounds, with dark hair and eyes. He has a number of tattoos including ones on his chest, left leg, shoulder, abdomen, left hips, neck and right forearm. He is known to use a number of names and aliases, including: Robel Turcios Rodriguez, Alberto Juanez Rodriguez, Roberto Rodriguez, Robert Turcios, Robert or Roberto Turcios Rodariguez or Rodriguez and Roberto Bahona-Maradiag.
As of this week no information had been received to indicate the suspect had been captured.