McALLEN — A Weslaco woman will serve 18 months in federal prison for biting a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer earlier this year.
U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Gabrella Lee Sanchez Tuesday during the woman’s sentencing hearing.
She was ordered to participate in anger management classes while serving her punishment. Crane also imposed three years of supervised release upon completion of her term.
The 32-year-old woman’s anger issues, which she acknowledged during the hearing, was what she believes led to her biting down on the CBP officer’s forearm during an inspection at a port of entry on Jan. 14.
On that day, Sanchez was the driver heading back from Mexico into the U.S.
Sanchez, who was driving a vehicle in the inbound lane at the Progreso-Nuevo Progreso International Bridge, 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.
That passenger was referred for secondary inspection after she gave a negative declaration and was further searched after she was found with a large quantity of prescription drugs, according to a person with knowledge of the incident but not allowed to comment on the case.
“Officer J.G. responded to assist with a vehicle occupied by two females that was diverted from inbound traffic for a secondary search,” the complaint states. “After another officer instructed the driver, (Sanchez), to remain in the vehicle, officer J.G. witnessed Sanchez disregard those instructions and exit the vehicle.”
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 a building charge after she pleaded guilty in September 2010, according to court records.
She served 99 days in county jail before being released to serve probation for two years, court records show.
After the hearing Sanchez apologized to officer “J.G.,” who attended the Tuesday morning proceeding.