JACUMBA, Calif.—The U.S. Border Patrol San Diego Sector has identified one of its priority targets as being the key suspect in an assault against a Border Patrol agent last night near Jacumba.
Martel Valencia-Cortez, 39, was allegedly smuggling a group of 14 individuals across the border on foot through wet, sub-40 degree weather along remote, dangerous terrain on Carries Mountain at about 7 p.m. Upon initial encounter, agents reported that Valencia-Cortez immediately fled from the group and ran towards higher ground on the mountain. As the agents gave chase and closed the distance, Valencia-Cortez allegedly hurled a softball-sized rock at the agents, striking an agent in the face. In response, the agent fired multiple rounds from his government-issued handgun at Valencia-Cortez.
Currently, there is no evidence that Valencia-Cortez sustained injuries. Agents reported that Valencia-Cortez fled to Mexico on foot. Fourteen individuals from the group were apprehended. The agent who was struck by the rock received medical attention for a facial injury. An investigation of the incident is being conducted by the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department, CBP Office of Internal Affairs, and the U.S. Border Patrol.
San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Richard Barlow stated, “Martel Valencia-Cortez has a long history of endangering the lives of my agents and the citizens we serve. His actions last night serve as a bleak reminder of the risk Border Patrol agents encounter in the service of their duties. I will not sit back and allow this blatant disregard for the value of human life. San Diego Sector will follow all leads and adjust our enforcement posture until Martel is located and arrested. Justice will be served.”
Valencia-Cortez, a Mexican national, has been involved in numerous human smuggling incidents dating back to 1997. He has been known to carry a firearm during smuggling attempts and has resorted to violent and dangerous means to conduct illicit smuggling activity and elude arrest, such as reckless, wrong-way driving along local freeways into oncoming traffic, threatening and brandishing weapons to intimidate smuggled aliens, assaulting agents, and resisting arrest. He was recently released from federal custody in September after he was sentenced to three years in prison for alien smuggling in July 2013.
A federal arrest warrant has been issued for Valencia-Cortez. He is described as 5-foot 11-inches tall, 205 pounds, black hair, brown eyes, and has a tattoo on his right shoulder. He is considered to be armed and dangerous.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.