Open container stop turns into immigration case

A passenger in a car pulled over during routine open container stop earlier this month in Marathon turned out to be a man who had illegally entered the United States and had already been twice deported, according to federal court records.

Miguel Angel Morales-Martinez, 25, faces one federal count of illegally entering the country. He is a citizen of Guatemala who was ordered removed from the U.S. in November 2012, and again almost exactly one year later, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrest affidavit.

A Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy pulled over the 1997 Honda in which Martinez was a passenger on July 8 because he saw two of the three men in the vehicle drinking from open containers of alcohol, the report states.

Because of a language gap, the deputy called a Border Patrol agent for assistance in communicating with the men. According to the complaint, Martinez admitted to the Border Patrol agent that he was from Guatemala and not legally permitted to be in the United States. A records search by the agent showed his deportation history, according to the complaint.

Another passenger in the car, who told the deputy his name was Mario Humberto, was also taken into custody by the Border Patrol, said Deputy Becky Herrin, media relations officer with the Sheriff’s Office. The deputy could not find any record of someone with that name.

The driver of the car did have a valid license and was not cited, Herrin said.

David Goodhue: 305-440-3204