Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington has sentenced Jose Luis Sanchez-Lule (age 37) to five years in federal prison for possession of a firearm by an illegal alien, and for illegal reentry into the United States after deportation. The court also ordered Sanchez-Lule to forfeit a firearm and ammunition.
Sanchez-Lule had pleaded guilty on September 3, 2020.
According to court documents, Sanchez-Lule assaulted a family as they were driving home from a trip to Cape Canaveral. On April 10, 2019, a man and woman took their 14-year-old son to Cape Canaveral for a rocket launch. After the launch was cancelled, the family began driving back to their home in Ft. Myers. At approximately midnight, the family stopped at a convenience store in Zolfo Springs and then resumed driving south on Highway 17. A few miles later, they saw a black SUV stopped on the shoulder on the opposite side of the road. When they passed it, the black SUV turned on its lights, made a U-turn, and began tailgating the family’s car with bright lights shining from the black SUV’s front grille. Thinking the black SUV could be a police vehicle, the family initially slowed down, but the SUV continued to drive aggressively near them. Realizing it was not a police car, the family made a U-turn back towards Zolfo Springs and called 911. The black SUV made a U-turn and followed them. After unsuccessfully trying to block the family’s vehicle, Sanchez-Lule pulled his SUV alongside the family’s car, lowered his window, and pointed a firearm at them. The family continued to drive at a high rate of speed into the city limits of Zolfo Springs. As they approached town, Sanchez-Lule slowed his SUV.
Deputies from the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 911 call and saw the family’s car approaching town with the SUV following them. The deputies stopped the SUV and removed Sanchez-Lule, who was the only occupant in the vehicle. The deputies searched the SUV and found a rifle positioned where it was readily accessible to the driver, along with a box of ammunition. They also found a spent shell casing inside the SUV.
Sanchez-Lule is a citizen of Mexico. After being deported from the United States in 2012, he reentered the country without the consent of the Attorney General or the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.
“Removing dangerous criminal aliens like this from our communities is at the core of the mission for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO),” said Miami ERO Field Office Director Michael Meade. “Thanks to an integrated law enforcement response, he will now be held accountable for his actions.”
“This case is an example of law enforcement partners working together with the goal of making our communities safer and HSI is proud to be part of this investigative effort,” said HSI Tampa Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Cochran.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Enforcement and Removal Operations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wauchula Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Sinacore.