Authorities Search for Smuggler Near Viejas Reservation

"Dangerous" suspect is a known human smuggler, Border Patrol spokesperson says

By Lauren Steussy
|  Friday, Dec 7, 2012  |  Updated 2:06 PM PDT
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Authorities questioned motorists near Willows Road in Alpine Friday morning. Brandi Powell reports

Authorities questioned motorists near Willows Road in Alpine Friday morning. Brandi Powell reports

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Authorities on the Viejas Reservation in San Diego's East County were searching for a "dangerous" human smuggler Friday morning, according to officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. 

The search began at around 5 a.m. near the reservation authorities attempted to pull over a man known to be involved in a smuggling event, a spokesperson with the agency said.

Authorities said the suspect's name is Martel Valencia-Cortez and he is a Mexican national without the proper documentation to be living in the U.S.

Valencia-Cortez allegedly failed to stop at the Pine Valley checkpoint early Friday morning. He fled from Border Patrol officials, abandoning the car he was driving and fleeing on foot, the spokesperson said. 

The spokesperson added that the suspect has been arrested before and has an extensive criminal history.

Court records describe Valencia-Cortez as a "known foot guide, load vehicle driver and alien smuggling facilitator." He has over 35 prior apprehensions by Border Patrol and was convicted of human smuggling in Mexico. 

There is currently a warrant out for his arrest, and he is considered dangerous, the spokesperson said. 

He is apparently known to drive erratically.

“Do not approach him because he is dangerous,” said Jacopo Bruni, a Border Patrol spokesperson who urged people who may know where Valencia-Cortez is to call 619-498-9900.

Witness Anthony Tesam said he was leaving the reservation at 8:45 a.m. to go to work when he was stopped by authorities looking for a fugitive.

The authorities told Tesam that they were searching for an armed and dangerous man who ran a border checkpoint at Pine Valley. They showed Tesam the picture above of the suspect. 

Tesam reported seeing dozens of law enforcement officials and Border Patrol agents near Willows Road near the reservation.

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