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June 8, 2011

HIGH-SPEED CHASE TO EVADE ARREST WHILE TRANSPORTING ILLEGAL ALIENS ENDS WITH CONVICTION OF MISSION MAN

(McALLEN, Texas) – A 19-year-old Mission resident indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to transport illegal aliens and placing the lives of three illegal aliens and two police officers in jeopardy while transporting illegal aliens has pleaded guilty, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. 

Guillermo Rocha, 19, of Mission, Texas, entered his guilty plea this morning before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane to placing the lives of three illegal aliens and two police officers in jeopardy while transporting an illegal alien. Rocha has been in federal custody without bond since his May 17, 2011, arrest in Palmview, Texas.

The prosecution of Rocha was initiated by criminal complaint filed following his arrest. According to allegations in the complaint as well as the proffered facts entered into the court’s record and admitted by Rocha today, he was driving a 1999 silver Mercury Mystique on May 17, 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 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.) through streets within city limits at speeds exceeding 65 miles-per-hour. Rocha rammed a police car, causing damage to that vehicle, and came close to crashing into a school bus during the chase, all the while ignoring his passengers’ fearful pleas to stop. Rocha was finally arrested after he drove into a residential area, through the front and back yards of a house and came to an abrupt stop in the back yard after striking a deck there. 

Today, per the plea agreement, Rocha, while acknowledging that the court may order additional sums at sentencing, has agreed to pay at least $500 to the homeowner for damages to the deck of his home and also agreed to pay an amount as yet undetermined for the damage to the Sullivan City Police Department vehicle.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 18. A conviction for transporting an illegal alien carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years in federal prison with no parole when a life is placed in jeopardy, as well as a fine of up to $250,000.

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.        

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