The man federal authorities accused of fleeing an immigration checkpoint in Amado and firing at Border Patrol agents was identified as Roberto Ramirez, a 21-year-old Tucson resident.
Border Patrol agents arrested Ramirez after a high-speed chase on Interstate 19 that ended when Ramirez lost control of his vehicle and crashed on the side of the highway north of Amado, according to a criminal complaint filed by a Homeland Security Investigations agent in U.S. District Court in Tucson.
The chase began after Ramirez pulled into the checkpoint with two suspected illegal immigrants in a 2005 Ford Escape, according to the complaint. He handed a Border Patrol agent his driver’s license, but fled when the agent told him to pull over for further inspection.
Agents said Ramirez drove about 90 mph, tried to ram Border Patrol vehicles and fired at two different Border Patrol vehicles.
One of the passengers was ejected from the Escape when the SUV flipped multiple times. The man landed about 20 yards away from the vehicle and broke his collarbone and shoulder, among other serious injuries, according to the complaint.
Ramirez and the two men were taken to a hospital and released, Customs and Border Protection officials said in a news release. The two passengers were processed for immigration violations.
Ramirez, a U.S. citizen, was charged in the complaint with five counts of assaulting a federal officer, three counts of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime, and one count each of human smuggling resulting in serious bodily injury and fleeing an immigration checkpoint at a high rate of speed.
Several of the charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
One of the two men Ramirez is accused of trying to smuggle through the checkpoint told agents he paid $7,000 to be smuggled to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he planned to work at a stable.
The man told agents that as Ramirez sped away from the checkpoint Ramirez said “This time they are not going to catch me,” according to the complaint.
Ramirez took out the pistol, which agents said was a .38-caliber revolver reported stolen by Tucson police, and shot out the window before firing at the agents.
The man said he and the other passenger were telling Ramirez to stop. Both passengers told agents Ramirez was trying to reload the revolver when he crashed the vehicle.
Ramirez reportedly told agents he expected to be paid $1,000 to drive the men to Phoenix. He said he bought the gun two days earlier to kill his father, according to the complaint. Ramirez also said he was working off a debt his father owed a drug cartel.
In fiscal year 2017, there were 93 assaults on Tucson Sector agents, and 786 assaults nationwide on Border Patrol agents, the CBP said.