PINE VALLEY, CALIF.—U.S. Border Patrol agents in the San Diego Sector, part of the California Corridor Campaign, working in Pine Valley, Calif., arrested one of San Diego's most dangerous alien smugglers early Monday morning.
On the night of Sunday, April 14, agents working in Boulevard, Calif., observed a smuggling operation in progress. After responding, agents were able to arrest two Mexican nationals early the following morning who were illegally present in the United States. The two aliens identified Martel Valencia-Cortez as their foot guide and claimed to be a part of a much larger group of illegal aliens attempting to enter the United States.
A few hours later, agents working in Campo, Calif., encountered 12 Mexican nationals attempting to circumvent a checkpoint located on Interstate 8. During the encounter, a male subject, later identified as Martel Valencia-Cortez, jumped into a nearby pond separating himself from the group in an attempt to elude arrest. Agents responded, but a struggle ensued as Cortez attempted to pull one of the agents under water. Cortez exited the pond after the encounter and was placed under arrest; the agent involved had no serious injuries.
"Martel Valencia-Cortez has been an ongoing threat to the San Diego community. His apprehension on Monday is the conclusion to a long term California Corridor Campaign investigation, and is a tribute to our agent's tracking and apprehension skills," said San Diego Sector Chief Paul Beeson.
Cortez is a known foot guide in San Diego Sector's area of responsibility and the subject of a Federal arrest warrant. He is being held in Department of Homeland Security custody pending prosecution for alien smuggling and for assaulting a Federal agent; which could result in a sentence of up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.
To prevent the illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on major corridors of egress away from our Nation's borders. To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.
In October 2011, Department of Homeland Security entities in San Diego and Imperial Counties launched a unified enforcement strategy known as the California Corridor Campaign (C3) to further strengthen border security. C3's mission within the California Corridor is to employ a risk-based, intelligence driven strategy through effective partnerships.