Border patrol enforcement operation to target wanted smuggler

CHULA VISTA (KUSI) — The U.S. Border Patrol is launching a targeted enforcement operation to shut down a smuggling corridor in eastern portions of San Diego County and the western edge of Imperial County. 

The operation also focuses on the arrest and prosecution of a specific and dangerous illegal alien smuggler. 

The operation centers on efforts to arrest 39-year-old Martel Valencia-Cortez. 

Valencia-Cortez is a previously convicted illegal alien smuggler who was recently released from prison and appears to have immediately returned to his criminal endeavors. Valencia-Cortez poses a unique threat to public safety due to his propensity for violence and his complete disregard for human life.  Valencia-Cortez is the primary suspect in an assault on a Border Patrol agent in Jacumba on Nov. 15th. 

He is notorious for carrying a firearm and goes to great lengths to escape apprehension, including wrong-way driving on freeways.

Enforcement efforts will involve a substantial surge of U.S. Border Patrol personnel and assets to East San Diego County, where Valencia-Cortez primarily conducts illicit cross-border smuggling activities. 

Agents from the El Centro Sector, as well as local, state, federal, and Mexican law-enforcement partners will assist in the operation.

This operation also will focus on known associates of Valencia-Cortez, or anyone who is suspected of harboring him. 

Last week, agents discovered that Valencia-Cortez is allegedly affiliated with an individual known as “El Tigre,” who is a lieutenant in the Sinaloa Cartel.

San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Richard Barlow said, “Martel Valencia-Cortez is the top priority target for San Diego Sector.  To the fullest extent that we can, we will devote our agents and resources in focused areas to put pressure on him until he is in custody.”

Valencia-Cortez is described as 5-foot 11-inches tall, 205 pounds, and has black hair, brown eyes, and a tattoo on his right shoulder.  He is considered to be armed and dangerous. 

Any information regarding Valencia-Cortez can be reported to the San Diego Sector Border Intelligence Center at (619) 216-4180. 

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