Police raid on trailer park uncovers five of 'Texas Seven' jailbreak gang

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The Independent US

Four members of the so-called Texas Seven, a violent, well-organised gang who became America's most wanted criminals after breaking out of jail in December, were arrested yesterday in a trailer park in Colorado.

Four members of the so-called Texas Seven, a violent, well-organised gang who became America's most wanted criminals after breaking out of jail in December, were arrested yesterday in a trailer park in Colorado.

Only one shot was fired - a fifth member committed suicide in the trailer home where the gang had lived for several weeks. The remaining two were still at large, but are believed to be in the area.

Sheriff's deputies in Woodland Park, about 50 miles south of Denver, said three of the men were stopped by police at the entrance to the trailer park as they drove off to go shopping, and another was picked up at the trailer home. Law enforcement officials sent in a heavily armed Swat team, backed up by fire trucks, ambulances and helicopters.

The fifth man, Larry Harper, had said he would give himself up, but after two hours police heard a gunshot. He had committed suicide. Harper had been in jail for severely assaulting his girlfriend's baby.

The seven prisoners, all serving long sentences on various counts of murder, armed robbery, rape and child molestation, made a spectacular escape from the Connally Unit near San Antonio on 13 December, where they overwhelmed guards in the control tower and made off with the prison's own firearms.

They went to the Dallas area, where they robbed a sports store on Christmas Eve, stealing more weapons and tens of thousands of dollars cash before shooting a policeman dead in a patrol car.

It appears police were tipped off about their presence in Colorado by a fellow resident of the Coachlight Motel and RV (recreational vehicle) Park after a feature about the gang on the Fox Television show, America's Most Wanted.

After the tip at the weekend, police mounted an undercover operation to confirm their identities and plan tactics.

Among those arrested were the gang's presumed leader, a convicted armed robber and kidnapper called George Rivas, and his lieutenant Joseph Garcia, a convicted murderer. Prison officials said it was remarkable they were at large for so long. Reports suggested that one or more of the gang may have been shot in Dallas.

The group's cohesiveness, and avoidance of contact with friends or family, helped make it difficult to track them down, officials said.

Police in Texas offered a $500,000 reward for information leading to their arrest, but the usual vigilante gangs who go after fugitives - legally, according to Texas practice - chose to lie low because of the reputation of the Seven.

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