Suspect in border agent death fled months earlier - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Suspect in border agent death fled months earlier

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — A man charged with killing a Border Patrol agent by running him over with a drug-loaded Hummer escaped to Mexico three months earlier in a Border Patrol vehicle, prosecutors said.

Agents detained Jesus Navarro in September 2007 after a chase on Interstate 8 in southeastern California, according to a statement of facts. Agents used a spike strip to puncture three tires of his silver Toyota pickup, causing Navarro to exit the freeway and drive through the desert until he got stuck in the sand. An unnamed female passenger was also taken into custody.

The woman "was able to take control of the Border Patrol vehicle" and fled to Mexico with Navarro inside, the statement reads. Agents found 980 pounds of marijuana inside the pickup.

The complaint doesn't elaborate on the escape. A Border Patrol spokesman referred questions to the U.S. attorney's office, which declined to comment.

A U.S. law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the agents were searching the pickup as the woman waited in the front passenger seat of the Border Patrol vehicle with her wrists handcuffed behind her back. Navarro was in back, and the engine was running.

The woman moved sideways to the driver's seat and slid her handcuffed wrists under her legs to reach the steering wheel and drive the short distance to Mexico, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

The complaint states that Navarro killed Agent Luis Aguilar in January 2008 by intentionally striking him with his Hummer as the agent was laying down spike strips to stop him in southeast California's Imperial Sand Dunes, the same place where the chase began three months earlier.

The dunes have long been a magnet for marijuana smugglers seeking to mix with off-road vehicle enthusiasts.

Navarro was extradited from Mexico last week to face murder and drug charges in San Diego. No date has been set for his arraignment.

Court documents alleging that Navarro escaped to Mexico in the Border Patrol vehicle were unsealed in February 2009 — shortly after Mexican authorities arrested him near the resort town of Zihuatenejo — but the connection was not widely known. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on it Wednesday.

Court documents do not list an attorney for Navarro.

 

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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