Venezuelan migrants accused of offering bribe, assaulting El Paso Border Patrol agent

Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times
Tue, November 15, 2022 at 1:39 PM

A Venezuelan man and a woman are accused of assaulting a U.S. Border Patrol agent after illegally crossing the border in El Paso's Lower Valley, FBI officials said.

Kevin Escalona Gonzalez, 35, and Yuleixy Nazaret Mata Fuentes, 27, face charges of assaulting a federal officer during a Halloween morning confrontation after an agent stopped them in a neighborhood next to Ascarate Park, said the FBI, which investigates assaults on federal officers.

According to a federal complaint document, the incident occurred about 6:45 a.m. Oct. 31 when the border agent was notified by a control center that a large migrant group was crossing through a fence next to the César Chávez Border Highway. The group ran across the highway and split up and scattered into a neighborhood.

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The agent got out of his vehicle and went up to Gonzalez and Fuentes and in Spanish ordered them to stop, but they ran. Ultimately, the agent caught up to the pair in the driveway of a house, the complaint states.

The complaint alleges that Gonzalez offered the agent $800 to let them go free, which the agent declined.

The agent "observed an object in Gonzalez's right hand" and attempted to handcuff Gonzalez, who allegedly pulled away and pushed the agent in the chest with the object, causing the agent "to lose his footing and fall to the ground," the document states. The unknown object was later identified as a cellphone.

Venezuelan migrants cross the Rio Grande from Juárez to El Paso on Sept. 12.

The agent "immediately attempted to regain control of Gonzalez by grabbing onto his legs and arms. In doing so. Gonzalez pulled away from the (agent) causing the (agent) to sustain cuts to his left wrist."

The agent "realizing that he was being dragged, elected to let go of Gonzalez, stand up and deploy his baton," the complaint states. As Gonzalez allegedly continued to refuse commands to comply, the agent hit Gonzalez's left leg with the baton.

While doing so, Fuentes allegedly punched the left side of the agent's back before the agent pushed Fuentes away and ultimately gained compliance, handcuffed Gonzalez and detained Fuentes until the arrival of Border Patrol backup, the document states.

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The FBI El Paso’s Safe Streets and Violent Crime Task Force investigated the incident and arrested the two Venezuelan citizens on charges of assaulting a federal officer.

"The men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol work tirelessly to keep our borders safe," FBI El Paso Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey said in a statement. "Assaults on Border Patrol agents or any other federal agents/officers or task force officers will not be tolerated and will be addressed swiftly by our office so they can continue to carry out their sworn duty to protect our communities."

Fuentes and Gonzalez remain held without bond at the El Paso County Jail in Downtown.

The assault incident occurred the same day that miles away Border Patrol agents fired pepper-spray balls at a large migrant group waving a huge Venezuelan flag after they rushed the border near Downtown El Paso.

Hundreds of Venezuelans have been expelled by the U.S. into Juárez since policy changes a month ago.

Venezuelan asylum-seekers hoping to be allowed into the U.S. remain camped on the southern banks of the Rio Grande near downtown Juárez in an encampment that some Mexican news media have started calling "Little Venezuela."

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Venezuelan migrants accused of assaulting El Paso Border Patrol agent