Drug smuggler gets life for running down Border Patrol agent
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A drug smuggler who intentionally ran over and killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent as the victim's partner tried to lay a spike strip to stop the defendant from fleeing into Mexico was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole.
Jesus Navarro-Montes, 25, was convicted in April of second-degree murder and drug charges in the death of 32-year-old Border Agent Luis Aguilar, who was run over by a Hummer H2 filled with drugs on Jan. 19, 2008.
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said Navarro-Montes faced a stark choice that fateful day in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.
“The choice was he could run over the spike strip that Border Patrol Luis Aguilar had helped lay down, or he could turn and run over Agent Luis Aguilar and continue his flight,” Duffy said after the sentencing. “Luis Aguilar was a vulnerable victim standing in a road. Jesus Navarro was a skilled, off-road driver who for a living ran drugs for drug-trafficking organizations through the dunes and through the deserts.
“He knew Luis Aguilar was a law enforcement agent, and he chose to turn his vehicle and to run Agent Aguilar down just to escape with his load of drugs back to Mexico.”
Defense attorney David Bartick said there was no evidence that Aguilar was able to identify himself as a law enforcement officer to the defendant, noting the agent was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans the day he was killed.
But U.S. District Judge Michael Anello said Navarro-Montes knew Aguilar was a law enforcement official.
The judge said the defendant falsely testified before and during trial, denying that he confessed to Mexican authorities and denying that he was the driver of the ill-fated Hummer.
Arianna Aguilar, one of the victim's two small children, read a statement in court, telling the defendant that he took something very special away from her.
“I can't believe you killed my dad,” the second-grader said. “He was very special … not like any other dad.”
Navarro-Montes was first arrested on Jan. 22, 2008, in Sonora, Mexico, and held in a Mexicali prison until June 2008, when he was released because U.S. authorities did not ask for his extradition, according to Mexican authorities.
He was indicted February 2009 by a grand jury in San Diego and charged with possession with intent to distribute 980 pounds of marijuana in September 2007.
He was re-arrested Feb. 11, 2009 near Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and extradited to the United States to face murder and other charges in the death of Aguilar.