McAllen police accuse couple of burglary spree

Authorities still searching for one suspect

McAllen police accuse a couple of stealing a car, breaking into storage units, stealing guns and Christmas presents over a eight-day period this month.

Juan Manuel Guzman

On Monday, after a vehicle pursuit that ended with a crash into an irrigation ditch south of the McAllen Miller International Airport, police took 32-year-old Edinburg resident Juan Manuel Guzman into custody, charging the man with a dozen crimes.

Lt. Joel Morales said on Thursday afternoon that authorities are still looking for 21-year-old McAllen resident Cecilia Marie Espinoza, who court documents indicate is in a romantic relationship with Guzman.

“If anyone has information where she may be located we ask they call McAllen Crime Stoppers at 956 687 8477,” Morales said via email.

Cecilia Marie Espinoza

Multiple probable cause affidavits for Guzman’s arrest detail a series of criminal allegations that began on Aug. 14 and ended on Aug. 24 when multiple police officers chased Guzman into an empty field before he crashed into a ditch, with two officers who were blinded by a cloud of dirt driving their patrol vehicles into the ditch after him.

The investigation, however, into Guzman and Espinoza began on Aug. 14 after a man reported to police that someone ransacked his storage unit.

“Missing from his storage room was his Mossberg patriot 243 cal hunting rifle …, hunting clothing, 2 binoculars, a large tool bag with power tools and various hand tools, and several game cameras,” a probable cause affidavit.

McAllen burglary detectives reviewed surveillance camera, interviewed the registered owner of a 300 Chrysler linked to the burglaries and searched social media, which helped the investigators positively identify Espinoza and Guzman, the charging document states.

Two days later, on Aug. 16, burglary detectives again accuse the couple of breaking into another storage unit at a different location.

According to a probable cause affidavit, on Aug. 21, a man reported that the manager where he rented a storage unit notified him that someone broke the lock to his unit on Aug. 16.

“The victim was out of town and arrived at his storage unit … today to discover that the person who broke into his storage unit, made entry and stole his black Ruger AR15 .223 cal assault rifle with four magazines and a scope, his Phoenix Arms hp 22 22 cal handgun …, several wrapped Christmas toys and miscellaneous items which belong to his wife,” a probable cause affidavit states.

When detectives reviewed surveillance video, they recognized Espinoza and Guzman.

That same day, Aug. 21, the McAllen Police Department sent a press release out to the newspaper and to television stations announcing that authorities were looking for the pair in connection to the first burglary and provided a description of the suspect vehicle, which police described as a black and tan 2003 Ford Expedition.

Three days later, on Aug. 24, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office contacted McAllen police to say they were looking for a stolen black Chevrolet Avalanche that had been tracked to McAllen by the vehicle’s GPS, according to the probable cause affidavit.

That vehicle had been stolen under the pretenses of it being taken for a test drive from an address in Mission, the charging document states.

At around 1 p.m., patrol officers spotted the vehicle on the 2100 block of Diaz Avenue.

“I turned on my overhead emergency lights to stop the Avalanche, but it refused to stop,” an officer wrote in a report.

A chase ensued involving multiple officers that ended in the empty field south of the airport.

“At this time there was a large cloud of dirt behind the Avalanche and I lost sight of it. I started to slow down but was unable to see that the canal road turn southbound,” an officer wrote. “The Avalanche continued east bound and fell into the canal. Due to the cloud of dirt I also drove into the canal and struck the Avalanche from behind.”

In a separate report, another officer describes trying to brake before he too drove into the canal.

The first officer suffered minor injuries and was evaluated and cleared at a hospital.

After the crash, Guzman tried to flee up the embankment but another officer was waiting for him and after a brief struggle, police handcuffed the 32-year-old, according to a probable cause affidavit.

That officer found .17 ounces of marijuana, 2.71 grams of methamphetamine and 11.85 grams of cocaine on Guzman, authorities say. When he was being booked, a detention officer found 7.75 grams of Xanax in his front pocket, authorities say.

Guzman remains jailed $143,000 in bonds for 12 different charges, records show.