Laredo Man Sentenced to Prison for Fleeing from Federal Officers
LAREDO, TX—Yozeth Muniz aka Eric Garcia and Paul Muniz has been ordered to prison for three years for resisting arrest and obstructing federal officers, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Muniz, 27, of Laredo, pleaded guilty May 14, 2013.
The case against Muniz began on Jan. 14, 2013, when several deputy U.S. marshals working with the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Fugitives Task Force in Laredo attempted to arrest Muniz on an outstanding parole violation warrant for a drug case originating in the 406th District Court in Webb County.
That afternoon, Muniz was driving an early model Mercury Crown Victoria and was stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Santa Maria Avenue and Lafayette Street in Laredo. Law enforcement surrounded Muniz’s vehicle and several officers approached Muniz on foot. At that time, Muniz attempted to flee, using the vehicle to push one of the deputy U.S. marshals away from his position next to Muniz’s vehicle. Muniz then drove away at a high rate of speed, according to testimony. The deputy marshal avoided being struck by pushing off the front end of Muniz’s approaching vehicle with his foot. No shots were fired as vehicle and pedestrian traffic had begun to accumulate.
Muniz drove erratically, swerving in and out of traffic at high speed which caused him to lose control of his vehicle as he proceeded against oncoming traffic. He struck two vehicles in succession, ran a red light, sped through a gas station parking lot and blew out the tires to his car as he struck a curb. His vehicle struck the IH-35 underpass wall at Santa Ursula Avenue and Lafayette Street and came to a stop. He was extracted from the disabled vehicle, arrested and provided medical care.
At today’s hearing, Muniz addressed the court and expressed remorse for his behavior, apologizing to the officers who attempted to arrest him. He claimed he was only trying to get away, never intending to harm or injury anyone. U.S. District Judge Diana asked him if it ever occurred to him to just stop, to which he replied, “just a little.”
Before handing down the sentence, the court expressed concern for the defendant’s reckless conduct, which endangered the lives of the officers and public. “I don’t condone the conduct you engaged in,” said Judge Saldaña. “You’re very lucky that you didn’t injure a child or a member of the public. You endangered the officers and others.” She also reminded Muniz of recent news stories reporting of similar reckless behavior resulting in serious injury or death to federal and local law enforcement officers and members of the public.
The victim also addressed the court and said that in his five years as a deputy marshal, this was the first time he “unfortunately had to draw [his] weapon and pulled up the slack” from the trigger of his firearm. He did not fire at Muniz as he saw another officer in his direct line of fire. The victim further related being so concerned about the well-being of the officers with him and the public and responding directly to assist the persons in the two vehicles that Muniz struck, that he was unable to focus on his own feelings until afterwards.
Following his sentence, Muniz will serve a three-year-term of supervised release and must perform community service. He has been in custody where he will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the FBI with assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service, Laredo Police Department and the Webb County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Homero Ramirez prosecuted the case.