Peruvian national Jhovany Arias-Herrera charged with assaulting and injuring deportation officers aboard Delta airlines flight

(STL.News) – Jhovany Arias-Herrera has been arraigned on the federal charge of forcibly assaulting Homeland Security Investigation, Enforcement and Removal Operations, officers.

“Herrera, who is an illegal alien, allegedly assaulted and injured federal officers, and disrupted an airlines flight just prior to departure,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “This defendant’s conduct caused physical injuries to federal law enforcement officers performing their duties and created havoc and panic for passengers aboard an airline.  Our office has zero tolerance for individuals assaulting our law enforcement partners.”

“Every day the brave men and women of ERO face danger while carrying out their duties.  I commend the quick reaction of those officers to prevent the situation onboard the aircraft from escalating further,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama.  “An assault on any member of law enforcement is an assault on all of us and HSI will vigorously seek criminal prosecution on those who do in a court of law.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and evidence presented at trial: On November 13, 2019, Herrera allegedly assaulted and resisted federal officers who were deporting him from the United States to Lima, Peru, his home country of origin.  At the time of the incident, four HSI Enforcement and Removal Operations officers were transporting Herrera on Delta Airline flights from San Diego, California, through Atlanta with Peru as the final destination.

After arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the deportation officers escorted Herrera to the boarding area for the Atlanta flight.  After boarding the flight, but before engaging his seatbelt, Herrera suddenly began screaming and demanding to use the bathroom.  At the time, airline officials had already ordered passengers to fasten their seatbelts and closed and secured the door of the airplane.  All the deportation officers present attempted to calm Herrera, including by allowing him access to the bathroom.

As an officer escorted Herrera to the bathroom, Herrera then punched the airplane wall frightening nearby passengers.  Flight attendants responded and tried to calm the passengers as Herrera entered the bathroom.  While Herrera was in the bathroom, another officer coordinated with a flight attendant to change Herrera’s seat assignment.

Herrera began yelling again after he left the bathroom and discovered his seat reassignment.  The officers then decided to remove Herrera from the airplane.  At the time, Herrera was seated in a middle seat, still screaming, and with clenched fists.  As two of the officers tried to remove him, Herrera tore off his sweater and threw it at passengers seated in front of him.  Two other officers immediately grabbed Herrera’s arms and attempted to escort him off the airplane.  Herrera pulled away from the officers, began punching toward the officers’ face and chest areas, and tried to kick the officers’ legs and lower body.

During the struggle Herrera kicked an officer, striking him in the knee, causing bruising to that officer.  Herrera repeatedly struck another officer as well.  Eventually, the officers removed Herrera from the flight where Atlanta Police officers assisted in detaining him.

Jhovany Arias-Herrera, 27, of Lima, Peru, was arraigned Wednesday November 20, 2019.  Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges.  The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the Government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Homeland Security Investigations is investigating this case, with assistance from the Atlanta Police Department.