""Months before a suspected drug smuggler was accused of running down and killing a local Border Patrol agent in January 2008, U.S. officials had him in custody, only to see him escape in a Border Patrol vehicle.
The revelation about the earlier arrest is in a seven-paragraph statement of facts in a court file for Jesús Navarro Montes.
Disclosure of the information comes after a widely publicized, bungled effort to extradite Navarro from Mexico in 2008. U.S. officials had been incensed that Navarro was allowed to walk out of a Baja California prison in June 2008 until it was revealed that the United States had failed to ask for extradition.
Navarro, who was rearrested and is charged with using a drug-laden Hummer to kill Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar, had been in the Mexican prison on an unrelated smuggling charge.
The federal court statement shows that Navarro slipped away from U.S. authorities in September 2007 — almost four months before Aguilar was killed — in the same Imperial County sand dunes where the agent was run over.
The statement by Agent Thomas Steele said agents were staked out in the dunes, an area popular with recreational vehicle enthusiasts and others 34 miles east of Calexico along Interstate 8.
Just after 4 p.m., agents saw a silver Toyota truck leaving an area called Buttercup Campground. They followed the truck onto the interstate, heading east, but the driver did not pull over.
The Border Patrol laid down a spike strip that punctured three tires of the truck, but the driver continued on, leaving the freeway and heading south into the desert.
The pickup eventually got stuck and came to a halt. According to the statement, a man who was later identified as Navarro jumped out of the truck along with an unidentified woman. They were soon caught.
How close all of this was to the international border is not known. The border in that area is a sandy road with concrete markers, but it is not clear where Navarro and the woman were stopped.
In any event, they were not in custody for long, according to Steele’s statement.
“Navarro Montes and the female passenger were arrested and placed in a Border Patrol vehicle,” the statement says. “The female passenger was able to take control of the Border Patrol vehicle, and both the female passenger and Navarro Montes absconded to Mexico in the Border Patrol vehicle.”
Though agents no longer had Navarro, they did have his truck. It was packed with 979 pounds of marijuana.
The next time agents encountered Navarro was Jan. 19, 2008 — in very similar circumstances.
This time he was driving a Hummer and the Border Patrol was pursuing him again. Aguilar was laying down a spike strip when Navarro intentionally ran him down, according to the indictment.
Again Navarro fled to Mexico, this time in his own vehicle. He was arrested Jan. 22 in Sonora, according to a statement released at the time by the federal Attorney General’s Office in Mexico. An official there told a reporter that Navarro confessed that he hit Aguilar.
But he was released June 18. After being criticized, Mexican officials said they had asked the United States for evidence to hold Navarro on the murder charge for months, but nothing was forthcoming. When a Mexican judge dismissed unrelated smuggling charges against Navarro, Mexican federal authorities said they had to let him go.
Court records show that the complaint charging Navarro with smuggling the 900 pounds of marijuana is dated June 26, 2008 — a week after he was released in Mexico.
A murder charge was not levied against him until a second indictment was filed in May 2009. By that time, Navarro had been arrested again by Mexican authorities.
He was successfully extradited last week. Navarro will face charges in San Diego but has not arrived from Texas, and officials could not specify when he was due.
The furor over the botched extradition led 39 members of Congress, including Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Carlsbad, to write a letter to the Justice Department demanding answers, but the department responded that to do so would “compromise” the investigation into Aguilar’s death.
Bilbray said yesterday that he was not aware that Navarro had been in custody previously.
A spokesman for the Border Patrol in El Centro declined to comment yesterday and referred all questions to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego. A spokeswoman there said she could not comment because the case is pending.
The prosecutor on the case also declined to comment.""
Baja Racing News.com UPDATE
UPDATED! CLICK HERE January 29, 2010
LA TIMES SERIES CLICK HERE
UPDATED Feb. 12, 2009
"Reporting from San Diego -- A Mexican man wanted in connection with the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent last year has been arrested in Mexico and is being held pending extradition, according to U.S. federal authorities.
This is the second time Mexican authorities have arrested Jesus Navarro Montes, a 23-year-old alleged drug smuggler who U.S. officials suspect drove a sport utility vehicle that ran over agent Luis Aguilar at the Imperial Sand Dunes in Imperial County on Jan. 19, 2008."
CLICK HERE FOR THE LA TIMES ARTICLE
CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATED ARREST
Photos of the Hummer used in the crime. One surveil pic during the crime and the other from Mexicali Police source of the Hummer, stripped, after the crimes.
Remember this one?
From: August 29, 2008
""FEDS OFFER $350,000 FOR MEXICANS HEAD
TUCSON - Federal authorities said Friday they have offered a reward of up to $350,000 for information leading to the arrest of a Mexican suspect in a Border Patrol agent's death.
Authorities believe Jesus Albino Navarro Montes, 22, is in Mexico but based on previous habits may try to re-enter the United States, Border Patrol Yuma sector spokesman Ben Vik said.
U.S. officials allege that Navarro struck and killed agent Luis Aguilar with a vehicle on Jan. 19 as Aguilar tried to place spike strips on a road to stop suspected drug smugglers in the Imperial County Sand Dunes in California. Aguilar, 32, a six-year Border Patrol veteran, was assigned to the Yuma sector.
Mexican authorities arrested Navarro on Jan. 22 in Mexicali in Baja California, the Mexican federal attorney general's office and Public Safety Department said at the time. But U.S. authorities failed to formally request Navarro's extradition over the next five months, and on June 18, a judge in Mexicali released Navarro from a prison there after clearing him of an unrelated migrant smuggling charge.
In July, a spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington said the United States did not ask Mexico to arrange for Navarro's extradition until more than a week after he had been freed. Shortly before that announcement, 39 U.S. congressmen wrote President Bush and Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking if the government had asked Mexico to extradite Navarro.
A Justice Department spokesman also said the department would review the legislators' letter, and that it remained committed to investigating the agent's death. Several days later, the White House and the Justice Department separately sent letters to the 39 congressmen, but failed to say why Navarro was not extradited from Mexico.
A presidential lawyer wrote that the White House deferred to the Justice Department to avoid interfering with or undermining the effectiveness of the department's investigation. A California congressman who initiated the letter-writing said the responses were "bureaucratic and lack transparency."
Vik said reward posters showing photos of and describing Navarro have been distributed to Mexican police stations and the attorney general's office and have been placed at ports of entry. "The reward was in the works ever since the suspect was released in Mexico. It takes time to work these things out," Vik said.""
FROM JUNE 26, 2008
""Baja Justice to Americans: F-YOU!
Man accused in agent's death released in Mexico
Photo of: Rommel Moreno Manjarrez, Attorney General Baja California
By ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN(AP)
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — "U.S. officials were shocked that a Mexican judge had freed a man imprisoned in connection with the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Wednesday.
Jesus Navarro Montes was arrested Jan. 22 in northern Mexico in the killing of Agent Luis Aguilar and had also been held over for trial there on migrant smuggling charges. The circumstances of his recent release from a Mexicali prison couldn't be determined Wednesday.
"We are working with a determined Mexican government, and our Department of Justice, to seek swift justice for the Aguilar murder," Chertoff said in a statement. "We have also assured Agent Aguilar's family that every resource is being called upon in the relentless pursuit of justice." The attorney general's office in Baja California, Mexico, confirmed that Navarro had been released but couldn't provide any details of his case. Officials answering phones at the 12th District Court in Mexicali said no one authorized to speak to the media was available.
Aguilar was run over and killed Jan. 19 as he tried to put down spike strips to stop a drug-filled vehicle and a pickup that were fleeing back to Mexico.
Authorities believe Navarro left Mexicali in Baja California in a Hummer carrying drugs and headed across sand dunes into the U.S., according to Mexico's federal Attorney General's office and Public Safety Department. Border Patrol agents saw the vehicles on Interstate 8 in southeastern California and pursued them. When both vehicles turned off the highway toward Mexico, Aguilar tried to deflate the vehicles' tires but was struck. Navarro continued across the border into Mexico and drove to Mexicali, where he gave the Hummer to accomplices for safekeeping, according to the attorney general's office. He was arrested a few days later. Mexican officials announced in late January that a judge had ordered a trial for Navarro on migrant smuggling charges. It wasn't clear Wednesday whether the U.S. had formally requested his extradition. But Mexican law usually requires that suspects face justice in Mexico before they can be extradited.
Debra Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego, wouldn't say Wednesday whether the U.S. government had charged Navarro or had sought his extradition. She wouldn't say whether the investigation of the case had been completed.
An online federal court database does not list any charges filed by prosecutors against Navarro in Southern California. The head of the union representing Border Patrol agents also expressed shock over Navarro's release. "Every Border Patrol agent in the country is outraged and stunned by this," said T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council."""
CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL LA TIMES ARTICLE
SPEED Mex Situation Update