Weslaco woman bites CBP officer; pleads guilty to assault

McALLEN — When a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer tried to restrain a Weslaco woman, he got more than he imagined.

Gabrella Lee Sanchez pleaded guilty to an assault charge Friday morning, and took responsibility for an incident from earlier this year when she bit a CBP officer after she was referred for a secondary inspection at a local port of entry, according to the criminal complaint filed against her.

Sanchez, 32, stood before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on Friday to be formally re-arraigned on one count of assaulting an officer.

Sanchez agreed to plead guilty Friday to the charge — which stems from an altercation between her and a CBP officer Jan. 14, 2018, at the Progreso-Nuevo Progreso International Bridge, the complaint states.

Sanchez, who was driving a vehicle in the inbound lane, along with a female passenger, was referred for a secondary inspection at the port, when an additional CBP officer, referred to as “J.G,” in the complaint, came over to assist a fellow officer handling the women’s inspection.

“Officer J.G. responded to assist with a vehicle occupied by two females that was diverted from inbound traffic for a secondary search. After another officer instructed the driver, (Sanchez), to remain in the vehicle, Officer J.G. witnessed Sanchez disregard those instructions and exit the vehicle,” the complaint states.

According to the officer, Sanchez was “immediately irate and argumentative,” with the officers.

“Sanchez used profanity and began complaining to the officers who were present,” the record states. “It was Officer J.G.’s experience that passengers demonstrating disruptive behavior of this nature were attempting to distract officers from a vehicle that contained illegal substances so officer J.G. made the decision to detain Sanchez and remove her from the immediate vicinity during the search.”

Officer J.G. placed Sanchez in handcuffs and placed her in a room inside the port of entry facility.

Once inside the room, officer J.G. tried to have Sanchez sit down on a bench but she began to resist.

“During a short struggle, Sanchez bit officer J.G. on the forearm,” the complaint states. “After Sanchez had been placed against a wall and could no longer struggle, officer J.G. noticed blood on his arm from the bite and called a supervisor to his location for assistance.”

Subsequently, officer J.G., whose skin was broken as a result of Sanchez’s bite, was transported to a local hospital where he was given a Tetanus shot and prescribed antibiotics, the complaint states.

Sanchez, who does not have any prior federal convictions against her, was previously convicted in state district court on a burglary of building charge after she pleaded guilty in Sept. 2010, according to court records.

She served 99 days in county jail before being released to serve probation for two years, court records show.

Sanchez, who was denied bond during her initial federal court appearances and has been in custody for more than 100 days now, is expected to be back before Judge Crane for her sentencing hearing, but a date has not yet been determined. Nothing was found during the secondary inspection of Sanchez’s vehicle.

Government prosecutors did not offer a plea deal in Sanchez’s case, court records show.