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Mexican man sentenced to 78 months for assaulting BP agent

Court documents show bloody fight between agents, previously deported man

A Mexican man was sentenced to 78 months in prison for biting a Border Patrol agent's thumb during an arrest near Lukeville, Ariz., in December 2016. 

Leopoldo Rubio-Quinonez, a Mexican citizen, was sentenced on Thursday by U.S. District Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a federal officer and reentry of a removed alien. 

According to court documents, Rubio-Quinonez was deported by U.S. officials in December 2015 through Del Rio, Texas, and on December 24, 2016, he attempted to reenter the United States by climbing over the fence separating the United States from Mexico near Lukeville, about 110 miles southwest of Tucson. 

A mobile surveillance camera operated by U.S. Border Patrol agents spotted Rubio-Quinonez, and at least three agents went to arrest him. 

This led to an altercation in which two agents were injured, and Rubio-Quinonez was seriously injured and required intensive care treatment at a hospital. 

Agent Dan Sifuentes suffered lacerations and a bite to his right thumb from Rubio-Quinonez, and was treated at the Abrazos West Medical Center in Goodyear, near Phoenix, about 110 miles northeast of Lukeville. 

In his plea agreement, Rubio-Quinonez acknowledged that he bit the agent's thumb, "refusing to let go, thereby inflicting serious bodily injury upon Agent Sifuentes." 

Agent Michael Jones Michael Jones said he suffered a "boxer's fracture" on his right hand after he punched Rubio-Quinonez in the "face and head." 

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A third agent, James Lapeirre was also involved in the incident.

Rubio-Quinonez required treatment in the intensive care unit at Abrazos West Medical Center in Goodyear because he had a "traumatic pneumothorax" or a collapsed lung, as well as fractured nasal bones, and facial swelling. 

An examination of his chest wall also showed signs that he was tasered by agents, and that his condition raised the possibility that he could have suffered a traumatic brain injury, court documents said. 

Rubio-Quinonez also tested positive for cocaine.

As part of the court proceedings, Rubio-Quinonez's defense attorney requested an evaluation for competence to stand trial, and the court agreed. A psychiatrist later agreed that Rubio-Quinonez was competent to stand trial. 

Following the determination that he could stand trial, Rubio-Quinonez plead guilty in November 2017 for illegal re-entry and for assaulting a federal agent. 

He was sentenced to 24 months for illegal re-entry and 78 months for the assault, terms that will be served concurrently, and ordered to pay $3,605 in restitution. A special assessment fee of $200 was waived by the court because Rubio-Quinonez could not pay it. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

A Border Patrol truck near the fence in Nogales, Arizona.