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Here's how FBI manhunts work

A former ICE agent explains how searches work, and why it's often difficult for law enforcement to get information from immigrant communities.
Posted at 3:14 PM, May 02, 2023

There is now an $80,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the Mexican national accused of killing five people in Cleveland, Texas, over the weekend.

The search for the man is now in its fourth day, with more than 200 law enforcement personnel searching for the suspect. However, authorities say they have no leads on where he might be. 

Many of us have seen those crime shows where officers and their K-9's are sprinting in a thrilling chase as they try to capture a suspect on the run. But real-life manhunts, like the one in Texas, can be far less dramatic.

Texas governor's reward announcement draws criticism amid manhunt
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to the media.

Texas governor's reward announcement draws criticism amid manhunt

Texas officials are offering a reward to help capture a man accused of killing a family of five.


The law enforcement personnel working to find this suspect are a mix of local, state, and federal resources who say they're working in unison to try and track down any leads. One of the first things these units do is set up a perimeter so they can narrow down the search area as they find out more information from talking with locals. 

The tricky part in this case, police have said, is there hasn't been any new information even though, according to the FBI, the suspect has been in touch with friends since the shooting. 

Scripps News spoke to Roy Smith, who tracked down immigrants who were in the country illegally for nearly a decade as an ICE officer. He says many times, he'd encounter people who wouldn't talk to law enforcement unless they were from the same ethnic background.

Police say they have no leads in search for Texas shooting suspect
Law enforcement officials work Sunday, April 30, 2023, in the neighborhood where a mass shooting occurred Friday night.

Police say they have no leads in search for Texas shooting suspect

The suspect is considered armed and dangerous.


"You're not going to be willing to open up to talk about situations, no matter what they are to someone of that ethnic background because you may feel they are going to change your words, they're going to misinterpret what you're trying to say, and they may use it against you for whatever means they might have," Smith said. "So, you'll feel more comfortable talking with someone from your own ethnic background because they have a better idea of understanding you, your struggles, and what you're going through and what you're trying to accomplish."

One thing that makes big manhunts like this different is the manpower devoted. According to the FBI’s website, one of the tactics used in situations like these is working this from the perspective of the suspect.

The FBI does its own groundwork to try and coax suspects out of hiding. Many times, it says that includes using someone close to them to help talk them down.

The FBI says  thinking of it this way can help lead to a peaceful arrest as it prevents the suspect from feeling trapped and doing more harm.