March 19, 2009
GRAND JURY INDICTS EL SALVADORAN FOR SMUGGLING ALIENS AND ASSAULTING A FEDERAL AGENT
(LAREDO, Texas) - A federal grand jury has indicted Rigoberto Torres-Gomez for unlawful transportation of an illegal alien and an assault on a Border Patrol agent, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. The two-count indictment was returned on Tuesday, March 17, 2009.
Torres-Gomez, 29, a native of El Salvador illegally in the United States, was originally charged by criminal complaint filed on Feb. 18, 2009. According to allegations in the complaint, on the evening of Feb. 15, 2009, U.S. Border Patrol agents tracking a group of suspected aliens traveling along the west side of IH-35 at approximately the 35 mile marker, saw what they suspected were illegal aliens being loaded into a black Isuzu Rodeo and a brown Nissan Maxima parked on the shoulder of the southbound lane. The agents attempted to apprehend the aliens. According to the complaint, one of the aliens struggled with one of the agents pushing the agent in front of the black Izusu. The driver of the Izusu turned the vehicle toward the agent and struck the agent on the left side of his body. Almost simultaneously, the agent had drawn his service weapon and fired into the windshield of the Isuzu. The Isuzu sped away from the scene. The agent sustained contusions and the alien who had struggled with him fled the scene.
Shortly thereafter and approximately 400 yards from the original scene, another agent found the black Isuzu. The agent saw several persons flee the Izusu, then discovered the driver, Rigoberto Torres, had sustained a gunshot wound. The agent administered first aid. Torres was hospitalized and remains hospitalized. The injured Border Patrol agent was treated and released from the hospital.
The unlawful transportation of an illegal alien carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment upon conviction. Assaulting a federal agent carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment upon conviction. Each count also carries a fine of up to $250,000.
The investigation leading to the immigration charges was conducted by Border Patrol, while the investigation leading to the assault on a federal agent charge was conducted by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Sheldon.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
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