A previously deported illegal alien smuggler threw a softball-sized rock at a U.S. Border Patrol agent’s face.
A federal jury convicted Martel Valencia-Cortez, 39, on Friday for assaulting a federal officer by throwing a softball-sized rock at a Border Patrol agent that struck the agent in the side of the face, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement.
Valencia was found guilty on all counts, including one count of assault on a federal officer with a deadly weapon and three counts of bringing aliens for financial gain. When Valencia faces sentencing on August 28, 2017, he could get up to 20 years in prison for the assault charge and a mandatory minimum of five years for each count of smuggling aliens into the U.S. for financial gain.
“On November 15, 2015, less than two months after his deportation to Mexico following the completion of a 33-month sentence for a prior alien smuggling conviction, Valencia re-entered the United States guiding a group of 15 undocumented immigrants,” the DOJ reported.
Border Patrol agents intercepted the group of illegal aliens that Valencia was smuggling near Jacumba Hot Springs, southeast of San Diego, California, at which time he picked up a large rock and threw it at one of the agents from a distance of approximately 10 yards, Breitbart Texas reported at the time.
Information the CBP received from the public led them to establish a connection between Valencia and the Sinaloa Cartel–the largest and most prolific drug trafficking organization in the world, Breitbart California previously reported.
The assaulted agent testified he had never been hit so hard in his life; the blow to the agent’s face was so hard that he thought he broke his jaw or his teeth were knocked out. He said that he experienced overwhelming pain and felt as though he was going to pass out.
Valencia managed to evade apprehension as he ran back across the border. Mexican authorities took Valencia into custody and turned him over the U.S. at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on March 11, 2016.
Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson noted the risk that Border Patrol agents take every day as they put their lives on the line defending the U.S. border from dangerous criminals like Valencia.
“The conditions are treacherous in some sections of the border, and our courageous agents put their lives on the line every day to protect our country,” Robinson said. “This verdict tells us that the safety of our agents is of paramount importance and attacks on our agents will come at a high price.”
Ryan Saavedra is a contributor for Breitbart Texas and can be found on Twitter at @RealSaavedra.