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Justice News

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

Friday, September 2, 2016

La Joya Man Convicted of Pointing Laser at CBP Helicopter

McALLEN, Texas – A 57-year old La Joya man has entered a guilty plea to pointing a laser at a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) helicopter, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Juan Peralez was arrested June 20, 2016. On that date, CBP agents in a helicopter were assisting Border Patrol (BP) agents in an area south of La Joya when they noticed the light of a green laser in the cabin. The pilot took evasive action and turned away in order to avoid being blinded by the laser.

Another member of the flight crew then guided agents on the ground to the source of the laser where a BP agent encountered Peralez, aiming the laser at the helicopter. 

According to agents with CBP Air and Marine, lasers are particularly hazardous when directed at aircraft. At a minimum, they create distractions for crews who routinely operate in the vicinity of power lines and towers. Lasers can also create temporary or permanent blindness. Further, since lasers can also be attached to weaponry, pilots will often take immediate evasive action which can also put them in harm’s way.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane accepted the plea today and has set sentencing for Nov. 17, 2016. Peralez was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing, at which time he faces up to five years imprisonment and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

The arrest is the result of a joint investigation between Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI with the assistance of Texas Department of Public Safety and Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Leonard is prosecuting the case.

Updated September 2, 2016