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Previously deported hit-and-run suspect criminally charged with federal immigration violation

Benjamin Lake, the father of the young boy injured by a suspected drunken driver in a car crash in San Ysidro, spoke to the media about his son’s condition.

Federal criminal immigration charges were filed this week against a Mexican national suspected of injuring a 6-year-old San Ysidro boy in a DUI hit-and-run crash earlier this month.

Constantino Banda-Acosta, 38, has been removed from the U.S. at least 15 times since 2002 for being in the country illegally, authorities said. Based on federal court records, this appears to be the first time he has been criminally charged.

The complaint, filed in San Diego federal court, charges Banda-Acosta with being a deported unauthorized immigrant in the United States.

Banda-Acosta is suspected of speeding through a stop sign in San Ysidro on May 6 and striking a Honda Accord in which Lennox Lake was riding with his family on the way home from a trip to Disneyland.

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Lennox suffered a skull fracture and other injuries.

Banda-Acosta was arrested about a mile away by Border Patrol agents in his damaged pickup. He has pleaded not guilty.

The injured boy’s father, Benjamin Lake, spoke to reporters Friday outside Rady Children’s Hospital where his son is recovering. He said the background of the case is “upsetting.”

He has recovered well enough to be moved out of the hospital’s intensive care unit, his father said.

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“We’re just really focused on Lennox right now,” he said. “We’re praying that the justice system does what they need to do.”

According to the federal complaint, Banda-Acosta was first removed from the U.S. via the Tecate Port of Entry in San Diego County on Nov. 12, 2002. He was most recently removed on Jan. 17 at the San Luis Port of Entry in Arizona.

Banda-Acosta is currently in a San Diego County jail on felony charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a blood-alcohol level of more than .08% and hit-and-run, plus a misdemeanor charge of driving without a license. If convicted, he faces a possible sentence of seven years and eight months in prison.

If convicted of the federal immigration charge, he could face additional prison time.

Banda-Acosta has been arrested in San Diego County before, on charges of domestic violence, DUI and driving on a suspended license, according to court records. Those arrests resulted in misdemeanor convictions.

Further details about Banda-Acosta’s deportations cannot be released due to privacy rules, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack said.

Mack could not speak specifically about this case, but said, “On a regular basis ICE files charges against people who’ve illegally entered the U.S. after being deported. We have also increased our efforts to seek criminal prosecution against egregious immigration violators.”

kristina.davis@sduniontribune.com

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david.hernandez@sduniontribune.com.


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