Mateo Palacio Guzman, charged with causing a crash that killed two people Saturday, apparently eluded U.S. Border Patrol agents to get back into the United States sometime after mid-2012 and was carrying a counterfeit green card when he was arrested, officials said Tuesday.
The man police knew as Mateo Guzman-Palacio when they charged him with fleeing the crash scene was carrying what appeared to be a green-card immigration document with that name, police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan said.
That document was a forgery, Immigration and Customs Enforcement regional spokesman Vincent Picard said Tuesday. Guzman, which is how ICE knows the man with the driver’s fingerprints, has been deported three times, Picard said.
Police say Brittany Williams, 24, and Naomi Mercury, 18, died from injuries after Guzman reportedly ran a red light and hit their vehicle Saturday at the intersection of New Bern Avenue and Trawick Road.
Guzman had first encountered the Border Patrol in 2006, when he was trying to enter the U.S. illegally and was sent back to Mexico, Picard said. Sometime between then and his DWI arrest by the State Highway Patrol on the Fourth of July in 2011, he came into the country and arrived in North Carolina.
Guzman most recently left North Carolina in July 2012, telling a federal judge in Charlotte he would go voluntarily rather than being forcibly deported, Picard said, after being convicted the month before in Randolph County of driving with a revoked license and also in Wake County in August 2011 of DWI. He got suspended sentences both times, state records show.
The same month Guzman told the judge he would go, Picard said, the Border Patrol stopped him trying to cross the border back into Laredo, Texas. He was convicted of illegal re-entry, a felony, and deported a third time, Picard said.
Picard said it is not unusual for an illegal immigrant to have a bogus green card. Illegal document vendors are readily available to produce them, he said. What matters is fingerprints, Picard said.
A federal program called “Secure Communities” makes a check of the immigration fingerprint database standard at the same time arrested people’s prints are submitted to the National Crime Information Center database for comparison.