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Press Release


For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

SAN DIEGO, CA – On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, a jury found defendant John Leland Combs  guilty of assault on a federal officer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111, and high speed flight from a checkpoint, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 758.

According to the evidence presented at trial, the assault occurred during the early morning hours of September 2, 2017. U.S. Border Patrol Agent Norberto M. Ribac was assigned to the Brown Field Border Patrol Station All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Unit patrolling in the area of Tecate, California. At approximately 5:40 a.m., Agent Ribac discovered northbound shoeprints in the sand approximately 300 yards west of the Tecate Port of Entry.  Agent Ribac followed the footprints to Industrial Road, where he discovered a single white male, later identified as Defendant John Leland Combs, standing next to his car (a stolen Hyundai Genesis) and talking on his cell phone, mere yards north of the border fence in Tecate. 

Agent Ribac approached Defendant and asked him if there was anything or anybody in the vehicle with him. Defendant stated he was alone and voluntarily opened the trunk of the vehicle for Agent Ribac to inspect.  As Agent Ribac attempted to request a registration and records checks, he noticed Defendant walking towards the vehicle’s driver side door.  Defendant then entered the vehicle in an attempt to leave the area. When Agent Ribac reached into the vehicle through the driver’s side window to turn the engine off, Combs started to drive the Hyundai Genesis with Agent Ribac’s upper body still inside the vehicle. While Agent Ribac was attempting to free himself from the moving vehicle, the vehicle struck him on his right elbow and on the right side of his head, breaking his ATV helmet.

In an attempt to flee the State Route 94 Checkpoint, Combs hit speeds over 70 mph while swerving in and out of traffic on a windy two-lane highway. As Combs veered over the cone lane and into the eastbound lane of the checkpoint, video footage showed the agents successfully deploying spike strips. As one of the agents threw the spike in front of defendant’s car, Combs delivered an obscene gesture before eventually losing control of the car and swerving into a residential driveway. He attempted to flee on foot, but was quickly arrested.

             “This office will vigorously prosecute those who assault dedicated U.S. Border Patrol agents and endanger the public with dangerous escape maneuvers,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman. “We will not tolerate disrespect for law enforcement and cavalier disregard for community safety.”

“A Border Patrol agent was assaulted by this defendant, who then placed multiple innocent drivers and other agents at serious risk by driving recklessly through east San Diego County,” said Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott.  “I’m proud of my agents who did not allow this criminal to escape arrest, and I am grateful to the United States Attorney’s Office for their hard work and dedication to bring him to justice.”          

Combs will be sentenced on February 8, 2019 by U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Bencivengo.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Conover, Ryan Sausedo and Katherine McGrath.

DEFENDANT                                                                        Case No. 17cr3026-CAB

John Leland Combs                                


Department of Homeland Security, Border Patrol Intelligence

U.S. Border Patrol


Cindy Cipriani 619-546-9608

Updated November 7, 2018

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: CAS18-1107-Combs