TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A Tucsonan was arrested after allegedly driving off with a Cochise County Sheriff's Deputy holding on to car handle.
A CCSO deputy noticed a white Ford Explorer fail to stop at the sign on South Coronado Memorial Road and Highway 92 south of Sierra Vista approximately 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, March 16, 2022.
Before initiating a traffic stop, Border Patrol informed the deputy that the automobile had reportedly picked up a group of undocumented migrants..
After observing that at least two people were inside the vehicle, the deputy reportedly followed the Explorer to the parking lot of the Canyon General gas station at the corner of Hereford Road and Highway 92, where he attempted to make contact with the driver.
According to CCSO, the deputy got in front of the car's front, driver's side window, and the vehicle attempted to leave. The deputy then allegedly grabbed the driver's door handle and ordered him to stop several times.
The driver ignored the deputy's commands, drove off and dragged the deputy for about 15 feet before letting go.
There was a vehicle pursuit down Highway 92.
The driver drove in a reckless and endangering manner as he ran multiple red lights, past vehicles through the center median at 100-miles-per hour.
The pursuit was called off "in the interest of public safety."
Concerned citizens reported that the vehicle had bailed out near Sierra Vista's Plaza del Toro.
CCSO and Sierra Vista Police Department searched the area and found seven undocumented migrants and a U.S. citizen.
Three migrants in the front yard of a residence on Plaza del Toro and two others were hiding in a tree in the backyard of a separate residence.
According to the CCSO, at least one of the noncitizens was identified as a minor. CCSO also identified one of the migrants as Alden Lopez-Rodriguez, a convicted felon who has been deported many times.
The driver was identified as U.S. citizen, 27-year-old Jesus Gerardo Lopez.
"These incidents are increasing in severity for the safety of our citizens and have proven that there is no regard for our law enforcement officers," Sheriff Mark J. Dannels said. "We will continue to pressure social media sites that recruit these criminals to come into our county to make money off of human smuggling, and we are going to prosecute regardless of age for each offender. Our message is clear and be warned, we will arrest, prosecute, and jail you if your in our county for the wrong reasons."
Lopez was booked into Cochise County Jail on charges including unlawful flight from law enforcement, seven counts of felony endangerment, child abuse and aggravated assault on law enforcement.
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