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Oct. 27, 2011

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Jury Convicts Detainee of Assaulting Immigration Agent at Port Isabel Detention Center

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – An immigration center detainee has been convicted of assaulting and obstructing a federal agent by a jury in federal court today, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Deborah Achim, acting field office director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Enforcement Removal Operations (ICE-ERO) in San Antonio, Texas.

Kemar Ramon James, 23, a Jamaican citizen who formerly had legal permanent resident status in the United States, was found guilty of one count of assaulting and obstructing a federal agent following one day of testimony and approximately one hour of deliberation. James had previously pleaded guilty to the same charge in January 2011, but withdrew his guilty plea prior to sentencing.

“Today’s guilty verdict sends a strong message that this type of egregious behavior will not be tolerated,” said Achim. “ICE-ERO considers the protection of ICE employees to be paramount. All assaults or threats against employees will be aggressively investigated with criminal charges initiated whenever possible such as in this case.”

At trial, the jury heard testimony that In July 2010, James was in administrative custody at the Port Isabel Detention Center pending removal proceedings pending before an immigration court. On July 22, 2010, Detention center guards and agents were conducting a routine dorm search, at which time another detainee refused to follow agents’ directions. When detention officers and an ICE agent were attempting to escort that detainee out of the area, James approached the agent and stated that the other detainee was not going anywhere. One of the detention officers shifted his attention to James and gestured for James to move back from the ICE agent and the other detainee. When the detention officer placed his hand out, James slapped the officer’s hand away. At that point, the ICE agent attempted to make James step away from the other officers and the other detainee, but James swung and punched the agent in the face once, cutting the agent’s face. As other agents came to the injured agent’s assistance to restrain James, James resisted. During James’ transport away from the area, James bragged to a supervisory ICE agent that he had knocked down an ICE agent and later threatened to attack another agent. The injured agent’s injury required two stitches. 

James has been in custody without bond since his arrest and will remain in custody pending his sentencing to be set at a later date before U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle, who presided over trial. At that time, James faces a maximum of eight years imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. 

This case was investigated by ICE-ERO and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph T. Leonard.