By Mike Donoghue
BURLINGTON — An illegal immigrant from Mexico, who got into a physical altercation with a U.S. Border Patrol Agent in Orleans County over the weekend, has been ordered detained without bail on federal charges of unlawful possession of a loaded shotgun and being unlawfully in the United States, court records show.
Ciro Temich-Ramirez, 35, appeared briefly in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Tuesday afternoon to face the two felony counts.
Temich-Ramirez had a loaded 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun with a pistol grip, an air pistol that was manufactured to look like a real firearm, suspected methamphetamines, brass knuckles, a knife, a 30-round AR-15 magazine, 103 rounds of shotgun ammunition and open beer cans in his Jeep, Border Patrol Agent Thomas Russell of the Newport station reported.
The physical battle with a Border Patrol Agent was the second reported attack on a federal law enforcement officer in Vermont along the U.S.-Canada boundary within 10 days, records show.
Another illegal immigrant from Mexico, armed with a knife, is facing charges of assaulting a U.S. Border Patrol Agent and knowingly bringing illegal immigrants into the country near Bullard Road in Highgate on Sept. 21.
Robert N. Garcia, the U.S. Border Patrol Chief for the Swanton sector, has been mum to the media seeking interviews in Vermont about officer safety for the Border Patrol agents working the rural 300-mile border stretch he supervises.
After the reported altercation, Temich-Ramireztold the Border Patrol he has been in the USA for about 20 years and had illegally crossed in from Mexico, records show.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle ordered Temich-Ramirez detained at the request of the prosecution that argued he was a danger to the community and a risk to flee.
While Temich-Ramirez is not charged with assaulting the Border Patrol agent, a federal prosecutor said in court papers it certainly was under consideration as the final charges are considered in the case.
If convicted as now charged, Temich-Ramirez faces up to 15 years in prison.
Doyle set a probable cause hearing for Temich-Ramirez on Oct. 16, but said he will lose it if a federal grand jury indicts him.
The case began when the Border Patrol received a report of a possible illicit border crossing in North Troy about 2:20 p.m. on Saturday. A concerned citizen in North Troy flagged down Border Patrol Agent Todd Marrs to report a suspicious Hispanic man was near Bear Mountain Road and Guay Farm Road and was taking pictures of the sky, records show. It is less than a mile from the international border.
Marrs found Temich-Ramirez outside a blue Jeep Liberty with North Carolina registration plates near the intersection, Russell said. Temich-Ramirez was vague when questioned and denied he had any weapons, but Marrs could see a knife in his pocket, Russell reported.
Temich-Ramirez was asked to turn around so Marrs could conduct a safety pat down, the Border Patrol reported. They said Temich-Ramirez opted to shove Marrs backwards and “a significant physical struggle ensued” between the two men.
Temich-Ramirez repeatedly prevented Marrs from accessing his two-way radio to request backup support, Russell said. He said Marrs eventually gained control of his radio and summoned help.
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent John Brooks arrived within minutes to help Marrs handcuff Temich-Ramirez, the Border Patrol said.
Deputy Patrol Agent in Charge Mark Qualter arrived and helped secure the scene and the Jeep, Russell said. Qualter noticed what appeared to be a pistol in the driver’s door of the Jeep, the Border Patrol said. The vehicle was subsequently searched.
Temich-Ramirez, when asked the purpose of his visit to Vermont, said he just started driving after having a fight with his wife and did not realize he was so close to the U.S.-Canada border, Russell said.
Temich-Ramirez, who said he was born in Veracruz, Mexico, maintained he had the shotgun because he sometimes slept in his car and he thought it can be dangerous, the Border Patrol said. He said he was aware it was unlawful for him to have the shotgun because he was an illegal immigrant and that it also was illegal for him to buy a firearm, the Border Patrol reported.
The defendant stated his wife is a U.S. citizen and she bought the shotgun, records show.
Temich-Ramirez said the illegal drug found in plastic baggies in his Jeep was “crystal” and that he uses it because he does strenuous roofing work and his back hurts, Russell said. Temich-Ramirez said he last used some between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted in the case and determined the shotgun had been manufactured outside Vermont, part of the reason his possession of it is a felony, the Border Patrol said.
A version of this news story appeared in the Caledonian-Record this week.