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Press Release

Man Sentenced for Assaulting a U.S. Border Patrol Agent and Alien Smuggling

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

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Timothy Coughlin (619) 546-6768 and Carlos Arguello (619) 546-6684


NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – August 28, 2017


SAN DIEGO – Martel Valencia-Cortez, a Mexican national and prolific alien smuggler, was sentenced in federal court today to 99 months in prison for hurling a softball-sized rock at a U.S. Border Patrol agent and for alien smuggling.

Valencia-Cortez was convicted by a federal jury in May of all counts, including one count of assault on a federal officer with a deadly weapon and three counts of bringing in an alien for financial gain.


U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff imposed an 87-month sentence for the four counts, plus an additional 12 months in custody for violating the terms of supervised release from a 2013 alien smuggling conviction.


On November 15, 2015, less than two months after his deportation to Mexico following the completion of a 33-month sentence for a prior alien smuggling conviction, Valencia re-entered the United States guiding a group of 15 undocumented immigrants. When the trip through the mountains in rough terrain and inclement weather was interrupted by agents, Valencia threw a softball-sized rock from a distance of approximately 30 feet that hit an agent on the side of the face. Valencia evaded apprehension when he ran back into Mexico afterwards. Agents arrested Valencia when Mexican authorities escorted him to the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Friday, March 11, 2016.


According to court records and testimony at trial, the agent who was assaulted said he had never been hit that hard in his life, and he felt an overwhelming pain that caused him to feel dazed and disoriented, as if he was going to pass out. The rock hit the agent so hard that he thought his teeth were knocked-out or his jaw was broken.


“This sentence is a fitting reminder that the safety of our courageous agents, who put their lives on the line every day to protect our country, is of paramount importance to our office and to the community,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson.


“I am grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the immense support the agents of San Diego Sector have received regarding this case. Valencia demonstrates the worst of what agents are confronted with, and we fully support this conviction and sentencing. Valencia is not only a danger to law enforcement officials but the general public as well,” said San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Richard A. Barlow.


DEFENDANTS                                             Case Number 16-CR-0730

Martel Valencia-Cortez                                  Age: 39         Colima, Mexico




Count 1: Assault on a Federal Officer, in violation 18 U.S.C. 111 (a)(b)

Maximum Penalty 20 years in prison


Count 2-4: Bringing in Aliens for Financial Gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324 (a)(2)(b)(ii)

Mandatory Minimum of 5 years in prison, maximum 15 years




U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Border Patrol


Updated August 28, 2017

Human Smuggling
Press Release Number: CAS17-0828-Valencia