Federal authorities are on the hunt for a notorious human smuggler who assaulted a Border Patrol with a rock last weekend during a failed border-crossing in southern California.
A man believed to be 39-year old Martel Valencía-Córtez fled from border agents on Sunday evening while allegedly smuggling 14 people near Carries Mountain. When Valencía-Córtez saw that officials were closing in on him, he purportedly threw a softball-sized rock at the agents, striking one in the face.
While an agent opened fire on Valencía-Córtez, he is not believed to be injured and was last seen fleeing toward the Mexican border.
Border agents took the 14 undocumented immigrants into custody and questioned them, where they told investigators the man who took them through the mountains was Valencía-Córtez. The agent was struck with the rock received medical attention for a cut and bruising.
Valencía-Córtez, who has been dubbed by Border Patrol agents as "One of San Diego's most dangerous human smugglers," is a Mexican national who has been involved in numerous human smuggling incidents dating back to 1997. He is known to carry a gun during his smuggling attempts and has eluded arrest in the past by resorting to violent and dangerous conduct, officials said.
The smuggler was most recently released from federal custody in September following a three-year prison sentence for alien smuggling. A federal arrest warrant has been issued for him following his most recent run-in with border agents.
Valencía-Córtez's actions during his escape "serve as a bleak reminder of the risk Border Patrol agents encounter in the service of their duties," said Richard Barlow, chief agent with the agency's San Diego Sector, according to Fox 5 San Diego.
"I will not sit back and allow this blatant disregard for the value of human life," Barlow said. "San Diego Sector will follow all leads and adjust our enforcement posture until [the suspect] is located and arrested. Justice will be served."