Jury convicts Mexican trafficker of agent's murder

SAN DIEGO Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:39am EDT

U.S. Border Patrol agent Luis Aguilar in an undated photo. REUTERS/CBP

U.S. Border Patrol agent Luis Aguilar in an undated photo.

Credit: Reuters/CBP

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SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A federal jury on Tuesday found a Mexican drug trafficker guilty of second degree murder for killing a U.S. Border Patrol agent by deliberately swerving a truck at him in a dash back to Mexico to escape arrest.

According to the evidence presented at trial Jesus Navarro Montes, 25, struck U.S. Border Patrol agent Luis Aguilar with a Hummer H2 truck on January 19, 2008, in southern California, as he attempted to flee to Mexico.

Earlier that day, Border Patrol agents at the Imperial Sand Dunes close to the Mexico border in southern California spotted a pickup truck they suspected of smuggling narcotics, which was followed by the Hummer.

Aguilar and another agent set out a spike strip across an access road to stop the vehicles. But the Hummer swerved to avoid it, striking Aguilar before speeding south into Mexico. Aguilar died of his injuries at the scene.

Navarro was arrested in Mexico and extradited last year to the United States to stand trial.

After two hours of deliberation, the jury also found Navarro guilty on federal charges of conspiring to distribute marijuana.

"Our Office is gratified by the jury's verdict in this case and appreciates the service of each juror," Laura E. Duffy, the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of California, said in a statement.

The prosecution team's efforts "honored agent Aguilar and the devastating impact this senseless crime has had on his family and colleagues," she said.

Navarro's defense had argued during the two-week trial that there was no forensic evidence or eyewitness testimony placing him behind the wheel of the speeding sport utility vehicle that struck and killed Aguilar.

Navarro pleaded guilty last month to a charge dating from a previous drug smuggling attempt in September 2007, in which he was arrested by Border Patrol agents as he drove a pickup truck packed with 979 pounds of marijuana, accompanied by an unidentified woman passenger.

While under arrest in a Border Patrol vehicle, the woman passenger jumped into the driver's seat and drove them both back to Mexico.

In an unusual legal defense in his murder trial, Navarro claimed that the loss of a large load of marijuana, together with his arrest and escape from federal custody, had caused him to dropped by his Mexican drug smuggling ring. That is why, he argued, other members of the drug ring testified against him.

U.S. District Judge Michael M. Anello scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 27, at 9:00 a.m.

Navarro faces a maximum prison sentence of 40 years on the drugs charges and a maximum sentence of life in prison on the murder charge.

(Writing by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Peter Bohan)

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Comments (4)
2Cents wrote:
“If convicted of second degree murder, Navarro faces life in prison.”

Another illegal we’re providing with 3 square meals per day, HBO, etc.

Apr 12, 2011 10:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
miller57 wrote:
“Looked similiar” should be good enough. Particularly if several witnesses said it and particularly if he has a previous record of drug smuggling. These border issues are just too big and too frequent to be quibbleing about the letter of the law. We need to streamline the trials in order to get the criminals out of circulation. If an occasional innocent person gets wrongly convicted that’s the price we’ll have to pay for preventing the countless additional murders that clogged up courts and mistaken acquittals will result in.

Apr 12, 2011 11:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jway wrote:
This violence is caused by the cartels having no legal competition to their marijuana sales. Although intended to protect children from marijuana, the federal marijuana prohibition instead creates an environment of zero legal supply amidst massive and unrelenting demand, which effectively serves to make all of us LESS safe.

The prohibition costs taxpayers $40 billion a year, generates 700,000 marijuana-related arrests every year, diverts $10 billion to the Mexican drug cartels each year, has caused the death of more than 35,000 people in Mexico over just the last four years, and lures drug dealers into our neighborhoods to sell their stinking weed to our children. And the worst of it all is that it doesn’t even stop kids from using marijuana!

We need legal adult marijuana sales in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales – to keep unscrupulous black-market criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana should be legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.

Apr 12, 2011 11:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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