BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A south Texas jury convicted an immigration center detainee on Thursday for assaulting and obstructing a federal agent, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Kemar Ramon James, 23, a Jamaican citizen and former U.S. permanent resident, was found guilty of one count of assaulting and obstructing a federal agent following a day of testimony and an hour of deliberation. James had previously pleaded guilty to the same charge in January 2011, but withdrew his guilty plea before sentencing.
"This guilty verdict sends a strong message that this type of egregious behavior will not be tolerated," said Deborah Achim, field office director for ICE ERO in San Antonio. "Protecting our ICE employees is paramount. All assaults or threats against our employees will be aggressively investigated, and criminal charges initiated whenever possible, such as in this case."
According to court documents, the jury heard testimony that in July 2010, James was in administrative custody at the Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC) pending removal proceedings before an immigration court. On July 22, 2010, detention center guards and agents conducted a routine dorm search, but another detainee refused to follow agents' directions. When detention officers and an ICE agent attempted to escort that detainee out of the area, James approached the agent and stated that the other detainee was not going anywhere. One of the detention officers shifted his attention to James and gestured for James to move back from the ICE agent and the other detainee. When the detention officer placed his hand out, James slapped the officer's hand away. At that point, the ICE agent attempted to make James step away from the other officers and the other detainee, but James swung and punched the agent in the face, cutting the agent's face. As other agents came to the injured agent's assistance to restrain James, James resisted. During James' transport away from the area, James bragged to a supervisory ICE agent that he had knocked down an ICE agent and later threatened to attack another agent. The agent's injury required two stitches.
James has been in custody without bond since his arrest and will remain in custody pending his sentencing to be set at a later date before U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle, who presided over the trial. At sentencing, James faces a maximum of eight years imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph T. Leonard, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.