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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 26, 2015

Alien Smuggler Who Assaulted Border Patrol Agent Heads To Prison

LAREDO, Texas – Jose Luis Zavala-Rodriguez, 23, an undocumented Mexican alien, has been ordered to federal prison for assaulting a Border Patrol agent and transporting undocumented aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Zavala-Rodriguez was found guilty on four counts relating to assaulting a federal agent and alien transporting offenses in federal court on July 25, 2014. 

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo handed Zavala-Rodriguez a total of 80 months in federal prison. At the hearing, evidence and testimony from the jury trial was discussed including the agent’s injuries and fear during the attack orchestrated by the defendant. The court also heard about injuries to another alien and the testimony of a minor who identified Zavala-Rodriguez as the instigator of the assault on the agent and attempt to remove the agent’s handgun and TASER. In handing down the sentence, Judge Marmolejo noted the defendant’s behavior could have led to the serious injury or death of the Border Patrol agent or any of the aliens. The defendant objected to the lengthy sentence, but the court noted that he should not have attacked an armed Border Patrol agent. As an illegal alien, Zavala-Rodriguez is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.

On Oct, 23, 2013, at approximately 2:00am, a Border Patrol (BP) agent was pursuing a large group of undocumented aliens through large underground drainage tunnels. These tunnels are generally used by aliens and their guides to move secretly and away from public view.

The agent made his way to the drainage tunnel’s opening and saw legs of several persons hiding behind trees next to a building. He approached the group and instructed them in English and Spanish to not move and sit down. One of these persons - Zavala-Rodriguez - put his hands in the air and walked towards the agent telling him not to worry, at which time the agent continued to command Zavala-Rodriguez to stop.

Zavala-Rodriguez then lunged at the agent and took him to the ground. Zavala-Rodriguez then yelled in Spanish “Todos peganle,” meaning “Everyone hit him.” On the ground, the agent was surrounded and hit and kicked simultaneously by several persons.  Zavala-Rodriguez was able to remove the agent’s service issued Taser. 

As the agent pushed himself up from the ground, he then felt someone trying to extract his duty weapon. The agent then discharged his pistol twice and the group scattered. Other agents arrived almost simultaneous to the second shot and arrested Zavala-Rodriguez as well as other undocumented aliens. 

The agent was hospitalized and diagnosed with trauma to the neck and other injuries. Zavala-Rodriguez received medical attention for his injuries and was released from the hospital and into federal custody. 

Zavala-Rodriguez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The matter was investigated by the FBI with the assistance of BP and the Laredo Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Coker and Homero Ramirez prosecuted the case.

Component(s): 
Updated April 30, 2015