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Man shot fleeing through Nogales port sentenced to 27 months for striking CBP officers

A Mexican man who was shot in the head in 2016 while attempting to barrel through a Nogales border crossing, striking two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, was sentenced last week to 27 months in prison.

Enrique Serna-Acosta, 28, was sentenced on Aug. 17 to one count of assault on a federal officer following a plea agreement he made with federal prosecutors in March. 

U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Zipps gave him credit for time served, and three years on parole with a special assessment fee of $100. 

In a sentencing memo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Cassell noted that while federal guidelines require Serna-Acosta to serve 63 to 78 months, because he was shot in the back of the head and "has apparently sustained significant cognitive injury," the office would accept his plea of 27 months.

Serna-Acosta was "competent to stand trial," Cassell wrote. 

Following the incident, Paul Beeson, then the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector chief, said that Serna-Acosta had been hit multiple times, and was airlifted to a Tucson-area hospital. 

Serna-Acosta was hospitalized because of his injuries, but was discharged and appeared in court the next day, Cassell wrote.

The incident began on September 16, 2016 when Serna-Acosta along with a minor, identified only as A.S. M.-C., crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization, and got into a maroon Dodge Ram pickup that had been placed in an area west of the Mariposa Port of Entry for "them to use," according to court documents. 

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A U.S. Border Patrol agent began following Serna-Acosta "suspecting him of alien smuggling based on the area," and Serna-Acosta allegedly began "driving erratically" in an attempt to escape the pursing agent, and headed south toward the Mariposa crossing, the court file said.

The agent radioed CBP officials at the port, and several agents approached Serna-Acosta while he was waiting to enter Mexico in a southbound lane. Serna-Acosta attempted to drive into Mexico, and struck CBP Officers Robert Tepovich and Mark Patterson, "causing serious bodily injury to one of them," Cassell wrote.

Several officers fired at his vehicle, shattering the driver's side window, and one shot hit Serna-Acosta in the head. The Dodge truck jumped the curb, and came to rest in landscaping at the port.

When officials reached the vehicle, they found A.S. M.-C. lying on the floorboard and uninjured. 

"The government’s position is that the defendant must be held accountable for his crimes, but acknowledges that the defendant has certainly paid a price for his misdeeds, and the plea agreement reflects this concession," wrote Cassell. 

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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CBP

The Dodge Ram truck that Enrique Serna-Acosta drove, allegedly striking two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Mariposa Port of Entry in 2016. Serna-Acosta was shot in the head after several CBP officers opened fire at the truck.