According to a statement from Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward, an extensive investigation by the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division, assisted by Patrol Division and EOG Resources Loss Prevention Specialist, resulted in the arrest of two Christine men who were charged with allegedly stealing copper wire from oil production sites belonging to EOG Resources. ACSO Deputies have taken reports on as many as 20 thefts in the past two months.
Early Thursday morning suspects hit a location off FM 3387, south of Christine. Sheriff’s investigators mobilized at approximately 3:30 a.m. and began tracking the suspects who managed to slip back to a residence in Christine.
ACSO Investigators worked throughout the day and obtained a search warrant signed by Justice of the Peace Orlando Carrasco. Prior to the execution of the search warrant, ACSO deputies stopped a vehicle believed to be involved in the thefts and found evidence linking it to the crimes. When the search warrant was executed, sheriff’s investigators found #2 copper wire believed to have been stolen earlier that morning at the theft off of FM 3387.
Two suspects were arrested and booked into the Atascosa County Jail. They are identified as John Edward Bautista, age 49, of Christine and Ernesto Laque III, age 42, also of Christine. As of Saturday morning, Bautista has been charged with five counts of alleged Damaging or Destroying Critical Infrastructure Facility, a 3rd degree felony and five counts of Theft of Copper, a State Jail Felony. Laque has been charged with three counts of alleged Damage or Destroying Critical Infrastructure Facility and three counts of Theft of Copper.
According to Sheriff Soward, several investigators and deputies took part in the investigation, however, it was spearheaded by Sergeant Investigator Stephen Wilson and Lieutenant Max Peralta and supervised by Chief Jake Guerra.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Soward announced that a third suspect has been arrested in the case.
Monday night, investigators arrested Scott Matthew Hasler, age 34, of Christine on warrants charging him with alleged Theft of Copper and Intent to Damage and Destroy Critical Infrastructure Facility.
Sheriff’s investigators are continuing their investigation into a multitude of copper wire thefts at oil production sites in Atascosa County over the past two months. Additional charges and arrests are anticipated.
Sheriff Soward stated, “We will also be making additional arrests in this investigation.”