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Press Release

Hidalgo Man Sentenced for Lasering a Texas Department of Public Safety Helicopter

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

MCALLEN, Texas – A Hidalgo man has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of pointing a laser at a Department of Public Safety (DPS) aircrew while they were piloting an aircraft, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Jose Porfirio De Leon, 25, pleaded guilty Jan. 8, 2015.

Today, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa ordered De Leon to serve a total of 24 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by a one-year-term of supervised release.

On April 9, 2014, a DPS pilot and a tactical flight officer were operating an aircraft designated as DPS 118. They were conducting a law enforcement mission in support of the U.S. Border Patrol attempting to detain aliens who had illegally crossed into the United States. At approximately 9:45 p.m. west of Hidalgo, the aircrew was illuminated by a green laser beam several times.

Using night vision devices and onboard sensors, the aircrew was able to detect the source of the laser in the vicinity of the De Leon’s residence and directed law enforcement officers on the ground to the location. Subsequently, De Leon’s girlfriend brought the laser out of the residence and gave it to the officers. He later admitted to illuminating DPS 118 with a green laser.

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

The investigation was conducted by the FBI and DPS. Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Steven Schammel prosecuted the case with AUSA Alexandro Benavides handling the sentencing today.

Updated July 7, 2015