Alien smuggler indicted in Boulevard chase
By Neal Putnam
The Alpine Sun
SAN DIEGO—Martel Valencia-Cortez, 36, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 25 counts bringing in undocumented immigrants, conspiracy, plus assault and interference with U.S. Border Patrol agents in Boulevard.
Valencia-Cortez has pleaded not guilty to all counts. U.S. District Court Magistrate David Bartick ordered him held without bail in the Metropolitan Correctional Center. He was arrested April 14.
Valencia-Cortez was ordered to next appear in court on June 17 to set a trial date and other motions. A warrant for his arrest was issued in Aug., 2012.
The charges stem from an alien smuggling incident that was uncovered in Boulevard on May 10, 2012. A Border Patrol agent noticed a heavily laden Plymouth Voyager merge onto Interstate 8 from Ribbonwood Road around 12:45 a.m. and a records check showed the vehicle had the wrong license plate.
The driver sped up and evaded the Border Patrol by getting into an opposing traffic lane on Interstate 8. The car was found abandoned, and five people who were smuggled into the U.S. were found in brush, but Valencia-Cortez got away.
The aliens were arrested and they all identified Valencia-Cortez as the driver in a photographic line-up with photos of five other men, according to his arrest warrant declaration. Valencia-Cortez is a citizen of Mexico and lacked paperwork to be in the U.S.
He has been arrested 35 times since 1999 and has previously been identified as a foot guide and a load vehicle driver in previous smuggling incidents, records say.