A South Texas woman will serve 18 months in federal prison for biting a United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer during an inspection in January.
Gabrella Lee Sanchez, 32, was sentenced to a year and half behind bars by U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on Tuesday. He also ordered her to participate in anger management classes while in federal prison and imposed three years of supervised release upon the completion of her term in response to her outlandish behavior during an interaction with customs officials at the U.S.-Mexico Border.
On January 14, Sanchez, a U.S. citizen, was driving home to Weslaco, Texas, from Mexico. She had a female passenger in her vehicle. During their re-entry through the Progreso-Nuevo Progreso International Bridge, a CBP officer pulled Sanchez’s vehicle over for a secondary inspection.
At issue was the passenger. She was referred for further questioning after she made a negative declaration. The criminal complaint, obtained by the Monitor, stated a second CBP officer named only as “J.G.” assisted in the matter. The publication reported that, during the secondary examination, CBP officers found this individual had large quantities of prescriptions drugs, according to a person with knowledge of the incident but was not permitted to comment on this case.
Officer J.G. instructed Sanchez to remain in the vehicle but instead she got out of the car and was “immediately irate and argumentative,” according to the complaint. It also described Sanchez as using profanity and complaining.
“It was Officer J.G.’s experience that passengers demonstrating disruptive behavior of this nature were attempting to distract officers from a vehicle that contained illegal substances so Officer J.G. made the decision to detain Sanchez and remove her from the immediate vicinity during the search,” stated the court document.
The officer handcuffed Sanchez. She remained combative and cursed as he escorted her to a room inside the port-of-entry facility with the assistance of another officer. Tensions further escalated when Officer J.G. attempted to get her to sit on a bench. She resisted.
“During a short struggle, Sanchez bit Officer J.G. on the forearm,” said the complaint. “After Sanchez had been placed against a wall and could no longer struggle, Officer J.G. noticed blood on his arm from the bite.” He called a supervisor for assistance. Authorities transported him to a Weslaco hospital to treat and dress the wound. He also received a tetanus shot and a 30-day prescription of antibiotics.
The altercation between Sanchez and the officer was captured on video surveillance, according to the criminal complaint.
In April, Sanchez appeared in U.S. District Court before Judge Crane. Government prosecutors did not offer her any deals and she pleaded guilty to one count of assaulting an officer, according to the Brownsville Herald.
Sanchez has had no prior federal convictions but, previously, pleaded guilty to and was convicted in state district court on a 2010 burglary of a building charge. She served 99 days in a county jail after which she was released to serve probation.
In federal court, Sanchez said she believed her anger issues led to her biting Officer J.G., who attended her sentencing hearing. Sanchez apologized to him.
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