A suspected smuggler who tore through a San Diego County Border Patrol checkpoint at high speeds injuring an inspection agent was sentenced to prison Friday.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Jorge Garcia-Osornio, 28, drove through the Pine Valley checkpoint going at least 100 mph as he tried to evade agents last November.
Garcia-Osornio, who was in the country unlawfully, had two undocumented people hiding on the floor of his vehicle.
Prosecutors said that as Garcia-Osornio approached the line of cars waiting to be inspected, he made an illegal U-turn and began driving on the wrong side of Interstate 8.
An agent yelled at him to turn around and another in a patrol car began following him. That’s when he made another illegal U-turn and started speeding toward the checkpoint, prosecutors said.
An agent at tried to position a patrol car in the middle of highway lanes to block him from passing, but Garcia-Osornio was able to drive around the car. He proceeded toward the checkpoint in a coned-off lane and sped through the checkpoint, barely missing a parked patrol car and smashing into a steel-framed road sign.
Debris from the impact sprayed in all directions and struck an agent nearby, who said the blow was like being “hit with a baseball bat.”
The agent suffered severe injuries, including a gash on his face, blurry vision, throbbing headache, and loud ringing in his ears, and was also vomiting and shaking uncontrollably.
He was taken to a hospital and has yet to return to work.
After barreling through the checkpoint, Garcia-Osornio led agents on a pursuit for nearly four miles before he crashed into a hillside off the freeway.
Garcia-Osornio fled the scene of the crash on foot and was found hiding in a carport with the crashed car’s key fob in his pocket.
One of the undocumented people in his car told law enforcement that at one point during the pursuit he feared for his life.
Garcia-Osornio admitted to driving the wrong way on the freeway, reaching at least 100 mph when fleeing from the checkpoint, using a dangerous weapon in the commission of the offense, and seriously injuring a Border Patrol agent.
He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
“This defendant had no regard for the safety of his passengers, other drivers on the freeway or agents at the checkpoint,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “It’s a miracle no one died in this incident. Smugglers operate in a world where immigrants are just dollar signs, not people.”
Garcia-Osornio said he was expected to be paid between $1,400 and $2,000 for transporting the two undocumented people.
He also came feet away from hitting a Border Patrol agent, according to prosecutors.