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Driver sentenced for barreling through California checkpoint, injuring agent

Posted at 7:09 AM, May 12, 2018

PINE VALLEY, Calif. — A suspected human smuggler was sentenced to 30 months in prison for barreling through a Border Patrol checkpoint, narrowly missing vehicles and severely injuring a border agent.

Jorge Garcia-Osornio, 28, of Michoacán, Mexico, was charged with transporting certain aliens and aiding and abetting from the Nov. 14, 2017 incident.

Border officials said Garcia was illegally in the U.S. when he approached a Pine Valley border checkpoint with two illegal immigrants hidden in the floor of his vehicle. As he neared the line of cars waiting, Garcia made an illegal U-turn and began driving in the opposite direction on the freeway, officials said.

Agents began to pursue Garcia before he made another U-turn and headed back toward the checkpoint at speeds reaching 100 miles per hour.

As he reached the checkpoint, officials said Garcia narrowly missed two vehicles and a border agent, and blasted through a metal sign, sending debris in all directions.

“In committing his criminal act, Garcia not only placed the lives of those he smuggled in grave danger, but seriously injured a Border Patrol agent in the process,” Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott.

That debris severely injured a nearby agent, who likened the blow to being "hit with a baseball bat." The agent was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and has yet to return to duty.

Garcia continued on for another three and a half miles at high speeds before exited a freeway and crashing into a hillside. One of the undocumented immigrants hiding in the vehicle told agents he "feared for his life."

Garcia was arrested nearby after ditching his crashed vehicle. As part of his plea deal, he admitted to charges of driving the wrong way, using a dangerous weapon, and seriously injuring a border agent, among other charges.

The man was expecting to earn between $1,400 to $2,000 for transporting each undocumented immigrant.

“This defendant had no regard for the safety of his passengers, other drivers on the freeway or agents at the checkpoint,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said in a release. “It’s a miracle no one died in this incident. Smugglers operate in a world where immigrants are just dollar signs, not people.