Traffic stop leads to deportation of illegal alien
By: Amanda Hill Bond
On September 6th, Tennessee Highway Patrol officer Neil Matthews stopped a Honda Civic on Highway 111 for speeding. The driver, who identified himself as Phillip Chavez, 24, of Cookeville, didn't have a driver's license.
Trooper Matthews gave Chavez a citiation to appear in Pickett County General Sessions Court when he noticed a specific tattoo on Chavez's arm.
The tattoo was suspected to be gang related and because the Tennessee Highway Patrol frequently conducts inservice training for all gang related activities, Matthews was able to recognize the significance. The Tennessee Highway Patrol Criminal Investigation Division (CID) was contacted with the concerns of a possible gang affiliation.
On Oct. 24th, Mr. Chavez appeared in general sessions court here and was interviewed by CID and United Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about any gang affiliation and his suspicious identification card.
Chavez admitted to altering a false identification card and was then charged with Criminal Simulation which is a class E felony. Due to the possibility of being an illegal alien, once booked by Pickett County Sheriff's Department, his fingerprints were run through U.S. Customs. A few days later, his fingerprints identified him as Juan Lopez-Hernandez, a resident of Guatemala.
According to the findings from the fingerprints from customs, border patrtol caught Hernandez in May of 2004 trying to cross the border to United States. His information was processed and he was escorted back across border.
Hernandez has been released to the custody of ICE where the process of deportation is being initiated.