Federal authorities on Tuesday filed felony assault charges against the Mexican national arrested by federal immigration agents last week on Northwest Austin.
Hugo Baltazar-Ramirez, 23, could face 20 years in federal prison if convicted of a charge of assaulting a federal deportation officer. His arrest on Friday triggered high alert in Austin as it became one of the first signs of what would turn out to be an operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that ultimately netted the arrest of 51 people suspected of living in the country illegally.
ICE officials have said the operation focused on capturing unauthorized immigrants who were suspected of re-entering the country illegally or committing criminal offenses.
The increase in federal enforcement, which occurred in several states, prompted outcry from Mayor Steve Adler, some council members and advocacy groups. It has also led to numerous protests in North Austin near the site of an ICE arrest caught on a video that went viral.
Baltazar-Ramirez was driving to work when an ICE agent pulled him over near U.S. 183 and Lake Creek Parkway after checking an immigration database, a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office in San Antonio said.
When the agent informed Baltazar-Ramirez that he was being arrested, Baltazar-Ramirez ran from the agents. According to the the U.S. attorney’s office, a struggle ensued after the agent caught up to Baltazar-Ramirez, who is accused of repeatedly hitting the agent’s head against the ground.
A second agent arrived and was able to restrain Baltazar-Ramirez, the news release said. The injured agent was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and released.
Friends of Baltazar-Ramirez who arrived at the scene minutes after he was pulled over deny that he injured the agent. Baltazar-Ramirez’s girlfriend Angel Velazquez saw him run from ICE agents and said the agent involved had no injuries.
“Hugo got scared and took off running, because they didn’t give him a chance to get out his papers,” Velazquez told the American-Statesman.
Baltazar-Ramirez has lived in the U.S. for about four years working in construction and building frames for houses, Velazquez said. She said he had no arrest warrants.
The FBI is investigating the incident. Baltazar-Ramirez remained in federal custody on Tuesday, the news release said.
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