ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal jury convicted a Moroccan man yesterday on charges of assaulting federal law enforcement officers and failure to depart the United States.
“These ICE officers were carrying out a lawful judicial order to deport a convicted felon,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This verdict shows that we will not tolerate this kind of violent attack on law enforcement officers. The United States Attorney’s Office will protect those who are sworn to protect us.”
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Zakaria Taoufik, 40, a citizen of Morocco, was being deported from Dulles International Airport pursuant to a valid final order of removal issued by a U.S. immigration judge because of a prior aggravated felony conviction. Three ICE deportation officers were assigned to accompany Taoufik back to Morocco. Taoufik told the airline pilot that he would not let himself be deported, and that he would fight and make the flight uncomfortable for everyone.
Once on the aircraft, Taoufik screamed that he could not be deported, that he would not allow himself to be taken back to Morocco, issued threats against the officers, and took violent and aggressive actions to prevent his deportation, including shattering the entertainment screen on the seatback in front of him by slamming his head into the screen, attempting to head-butt two of the officers, attempting to bite an officer, and deliberately spitting in the face of an officer.
Because of his disruptive actions, Taoufik and the ICE officers were ordered off the aircraft. This was Taoufik’s second successful attempt to prevent his deportation, as he had foiled an earlier attempt to deport him from Atlanta in October 2017.
Taoufik faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on Jan. 25, 2019. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the verdict. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Reilly and Assistant U.S. Attorney Grace Hill are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-73.
SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on Thursday, November 8, 2018.