Mexican man sentenced to 4 years in prison for slamming CBP officer to ground in 2020
Female officer's head hit concrete floor & she suffered 'tramautic brain injury'
A Mexican man was sentenced to more than four years in prison after he intentionally slammed a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer to the ground—a blow that resulted in a traumatic brain injury—during a 2020 incident in Nogales, Arizona.
Cesar Alejandro Avendano-Soto, 21, was sentenced to 51 months behind bars and three years probation by U.S. District Judge Scott H. Rash during a hearing in Tucson on Friday.
Avendano-Soto attempted to enter the United States on March 24, 2020, and when he was asked for proof of citizenship, he allegedly "became angry" and tried to push past the female officer. As she tried to stop him, he "put his arms around her and slammed her to the concrete ground," according to court records.
The officer, identified only as J.V., hit her head on the concrete.
In a court filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah B. Houston wrote the officer "got up quickly, but her injuries were not immediately obvious." J.V. was first diagnosed with a concussion, however her symptoms "became increasingly severe" and she was later diagnosed with "a traumatic brain injury with moderate to severe post-concussive symptoms."
Houston wrote the assault on J.V. and her injuries has "a huge impact on both her day-to-day life and her future."
Avendano-Soto was able to flee into Mexico, but was "convinced to come back" and he was later interviewed and released, according to court records.
Houston noted Avendano-Soto attempted to smuggle nearly a pound of methamphetamine into the U.S. in April 2017, and in November 2017, he punched a CBP officer in the face. In August 2019, he was arrested for attempted to smuggle people into the U.S., and in 2020, he allegedly verbally harassed CBP officers another port.
"These incidents represent a pattern of criminal activity and violent actions towards CBP officers. The defendant is a danger to others," wrote Houston, adding her concern was "heightened" by Avendano-Soto's alleged substance abuse and signs of an untreated mental illness. She noted that while Avendano-Soto told officials he was diagnosed with a mental health issue an evaluation by the court as part of his pretrial release agreement "does not support that."
"Regardless, the defendant was not receiving treatment at the time of the assault," Houston wrote. For most of the last two years awaiting trial, Avendano-Soto was on pretrial release, however, that was revoked because he continued to use marijuana and cocaine violating his release agreement, Houston told the court.
The case was set for trial in November, however, in September, Avendano-Soto agreed to plead guilty. In a court filing, his attorney Greta Vietor told the court she discussed a plea offer with her client, but he "chose to proceed without an agreement."
On Feb. 10, Houston asked the court to impose a sentence of 51 months, along with $20,514.08 in restitution to "reflect the seriousness of the offense," and Rash agreed. Rash ordered a restitution hearing in April to consider how much Avendano-Soto will be forced to pay as part of his sentence.