June 1, 2011
HIGH SPEED CHASE TO EVADE ARREST WHILE TRANSPORTING ILLEGAL ALIENS LEADS TO FEDERAL INDICTMENT OF MISSION MAN
(McALLEN, Texas) – A 19-year-old Mission resident has been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to transport illegal aliens and placing the lives of five people - two police officers and three aliens - in jeopardy while transporting illegal aliens, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. The four-count indictment was returned yesterday by a McAllen grand jury charging Guillermo Rocha, 19, of Mission, Texas, with three counts of placing lives in jeopardy while transporting illegal aliens and conspiring to transport illegal aliens.
Rocha has been in federal custody since his May 17, 2011, arrest in Palmveiw, Texas. Following a hearing on the government’s motion held within days of his arrest, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby ordered Rocha to remain in custody without bond pending further legal proceedings. Rocha is scheduled for arraignment on the charges on June 9, 2011, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos.
The prosecution of Rocha was initiated by criminal complaint which was filed following his arrest. According to allegations in the complaint, on May 17, 2011, Rocha was driving a 1999 silver Mercury Mystique carrying four undocumented aliens as passengers. When officers of the La Grulla Police Department attempted to make a traffic stop of Rocha for a missing front license plate, Rocha allegedly refused to stop and led La Grulla and Sullivan City police officers on a high-speed car chase through rush-hour traffic (around 5:30 p.m.) along Highway 83 within city limits at speeds exceeding 65 miles-per-hour. Rocha allegedly rammed a police car and came close to crashing into a school bus during the chase, even as he talked on a cell phone and ignored his passengers’ pleas to stop. Rocha was finally arrested after the vehicle he was driving went into a residential area, through a yard, and came to an abrupt stop in the back yard of a residence after striking a structure.
A conviction for transporting illegal aliens carries a maximum prison term of 10 years. Each of the three counts of placing lives in jeopardy while transporting illegal aliens carries a maximum sentence, upon conviction, of 20 years imprisonment. Each of the four counts also carries a maximum fine of $250,000 as possible punishment. Additionally, if convicted, Rocha could, by statute, be ordered as part of Rocha’s sentence, to pay restitution to any victims harmed by Rocha’s alleged crimes.
The investigation leading to the federal charges was conducted by the U.S. Border Patrol with the assistance of the La Grulla and Sullivan City Police Departments and the Texas Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Sully is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
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