A Canadian man who sped through a customs checkpoint at the Lewistown-Queenston Bridge and led police on a high-speed chase, eventually crashing into a New York State Police patrol vehicle in Grand Island has been charged.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Feng Chen, 23, of Ontario, was charged Friday with assaulting a federal officer by means of a dangerous weapon, evading a checkpoint operated by a federal law enforcement agency in a motor vehicle in excess of the legal speed limit, and with eluding inspection by immigration officials. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that at about 2:30 p.m. Monday, Chen was attempting to enter the U.S. at the Lewiston bridge and had turned over his passport when it was requested by a Customs and Border Protection officer. However, when the officer asked the defendant for his citizenship and destination, he did not answer the questions and then sped through the inspection checkpoint.

The officer called out “port runner” over the radio, and a CBP officer began pursuing Chen’s vehicle, in a marked unit, with emergency lights and sirens activated. During the course of the chase, the defendant was weaving in and out of traffic at an unsafe speed. The pursuit continued on to Grand Island, where a New York State Police unit, with activated emergency lights, entered the roadway in front of Chen’s vehicle in an attempt to stop it. Rather than stop, the defendant struck the rear of the New York State Police vehicle at a high rate of speed, and then came to a stop.

Following the collision, Chen failed to comply with a CBP officer’s commands. As the officer attempted to remove the defendant from his vehicle, Chen struck and punched the CBP officer with his fist, near the officer’s left eye, resulting in an abrasion on the side of officer’s face. The defendant was then transported to Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston.

Based on immigration record checks, the defendant has no valid immigration status in the U.S. and is present illegally in the U.S. in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

“Border security is essential to our very existence as a nation,” Kennedy said in a release. “We, together with our state and local partners, remain vigilant and committed to protecting our citizens and upholding the rule of law not only within our country but also at its borders.”

The defendant made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and is being held pending a detention hearing scheduled for Dec. 18.

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