How Did an Alien Accused of Murder Both Here and Abroad Get Into the United States?

And why doesn’t anybody care about a savagely slain migrant mother and toddler?

By Andrew R. Arthur on May 30, 2024

In early May, I wrote about a gruesome double murder that occurred in Dover, Fla., a small town about 20 miles from Tampa. The accused and the victims were all apparently here illegally, all from Guatemala. New information indicates that the accused is also wanted back in his home country for not one, but two separate murders. This again raises the question of how he was able to get into the United States, and why nobody seems to care about a migrant mother and toddler who were brutally killed.

The Defendant, the Victims, and the Offense Charged. The defendant in this case is Angel Gabriel Cuz Choc, a 31-year-old who, as noted, he has been identified as a Guatemalan national here illegally. The victims were Amalia Coc Choc De Pec, aged 36, and her four-year-old daughter Estrella Anastasia Pec Coc — again, each Guatemalan and each here illegally.

Various news reports — almost exclusively local reporting — indicate the three resided in a trailer home on Sumner Road in Dover. Police were called to the residence at 5:30 PM on April 25 when a fourth roommate returned to the residence and discovered Coc Choc De Pec outside the residence, lying in a pool of blood.

When officers arrived and entered the trailer, they found little girl’s lifeless body in a tub. The two had died about two hours earlier. The roommate informed officers of numerous quarrels between Cuz Choc and Coc Choc De Pec, and a manhunt ensued. The defendant was arrested 17 hours later.

According to the local Fox affiliate:

Cuz Choc called his brothers after the killings and one brother told investigators that his brother confessed to the murders and said he did it because his girlfriend went out with a friend for three hours instead of her allotted hour and a half.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Cuz Choc confessed to both murders and makes clear that although he and Coc Choc De Pec were “romantically involved”, Cuz Choc is not Pec Coc’s father (he remains in Guatemala).

All of that said, Cuz Choc has not yet been tried — let alone convicted — and is presumed innocent. If the confession part is true, however, I am not sure what defenses he may have.

“State’s Attorney Office Seeking Death Penalty”. When I first wrote about this case, I noted that it was unclear whether the trio had come together to the United States or whether they had met here. A May 15 press release from local prosecutors captioned “State’s Attorney Office Seeking Death Penalty for Illegal Alien Responsible for Murdering Girlfriend and Her 4-Year-Old Daughter” fills in some of those blanks — and more.

It reveals that the accused entered the country in September 2023 with the assistance of a smuggler, and only met Coc Choc De Pec — who had been living in New Jersey with her daughter — after arriving here, through Facebook. After that, they moved to Florida together, where Cuz Choc was working as a day laborer.

The release also states that Coc Choc De Pec was beaten and stabbed with both a shovel and a knife, and quotes local State Attorney Suzy Lopez, who explained the charge and requested sentence:

I can’t imagine the terror both victims went through as they were brutally attacked by this defendant. A mother and her 4-year-old daughter were savagely stabbed to death. This crime was especially heinous, cruel, and atrocious. As a result of the violent nature of the defendant’s actions and the suffering of the victims, we are seeking the death penalty for both murders. This tragedy is made even worse by the fact that the defendant was in our community illegally.

“Wanted for Two Separate Murders” in Guatemala. As I noted in the earlier post, Choc De Pec’s sister, Dolores, revealed that Cuz Choc had previously threatened her family, telling the local NBC affiliate: “A man called me and told me to tell my sister to come back to him, because if she doesn’t, there will be consequences. It’s not the first time I’ve killed people. I’ve already killed people in Guatemala.”

That may not have been an idle boast, as the state’s attorney’s press release claims that: “Cuz Choc entered the country illegally from Guatemala where the U.S. Border Patrol says he was also wanted for two separate murders.”

Assuming that’s also correct (local officials sometimes confuse federal immigration agencies), it raises the question of why Border Patrol was involved in the matter and whether Cuz Choc had been apprehended after he entered and was released or instead evaded apprehension when he entered illegally.

Plainly, an illegal migrant who’s a fugitive from murder charges abroad should never have been released, but then by law no illegal migrant is supposed to be released, and that hasn’t stopped Biden’s DHS from cutting nearly all of them loose anyway.

It’s possible that media outlets and Congress have been attempting to find answers to those questions and that DHS has not been forthcoming, but curiously, these bloody and senseless murders don’t seem to have attracted much attention, at least not nationally.

“Nothing to See Here.” That brings me to a May 22 article by former diplomat and CIS Fellow Dave Seminara in City Journal, headlined “Nothing to See Here: Mainstream media outlets refuse to cover illegal-immigrant crime”.

He, like me, wonders why this story has largely fallen through the cracks:

In late April, near my home in Tampa, a woman from Guatemala and her four-year-old daughter were brutally killed with a knife and a shovel by the woman’s live-in boyfriend. The alleged killer, described in the press as “a Florida man,” apparently killed his girlfriend because she returned home late from an outing with friends.

You would think that CNN, NPR, the New York Times, and other prominent media outlets might cover this story. You would also assume that progressive legislators and groups that purport to care about women, immigrants, and domestic violence would highlight the case, condemn the horrific attack, and demand action to protect women. Those are reasonable assumptions, but they don’t apply here.

Instead, he complains, this crime has largely been consigned to the realm of “right-leaning media”, although he notes that Huffington Post, CBS News, Newsweek, and People did report on the case, though none mentioned Cuz Choc’s illegal status “or followed up when news broke that he was wanted for two other murders in Guatemala”.

Seminara contends:

Left-wing and mainstream outlets ignore, downplay, or outright lie about these types of stories to preserve the narrative that illegal immigrants are all innocent strivers, “fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries.” But what about those, apparently like Cuz Choc, who flee because they committed violence in their home countries and plan to commit more crimes here? [Emphasis in original.]

It’s difficult to argue with any of those points, though Seminara asserts that some:

crime stories involving illegal immigrants become too big for the media to ignore, like the case of Laken Riley, a University of Georgia student kidnapped and murdered in February, allegedly by another recently arrived illegal immigrant with a criminal record.

I agree with those contentions as well (the president himself had to be cajoled into stating Riley’s name during the State of the Union address in March, and even then botched it), but I also believe that there is something more insidious going on here.

When a young U.S. citizen with a bright future like Riley is killed by an illegal migrant, the story can take on a life of its own, as Seminara indicates.

That’s appropriate, but there also seems to be an instinct in the media to conclude that certain offenses are a poorly understood — albeit regrettable — cultural norm elsewhere, and that when such a crime happens here, and both victims and the accused come from that culture, it didn’t really happen here, or that such individuals should not be held to American standards.

Although he didn’t say as much, that might be at least part of the reason why DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told his immigration officers in September 2021 to go easy on aliens charged with domestic violence, reversing a determination by his Obama-era boss, Secretary Jeh Johnson, who prioritized such cases.

That Mayorkas did it in a tone that is both condescending and paternalistic has also been largely overlooked by those who “purport to care about women, immigrants, and domestic violence” that Seminara describes, but, respectfully, domestic violence is globally unacceptable.

As an INS prosecutor and immigration judge, I heard that “cultural norm” claim more times than I care to count, inevitably to excuse away universally inexcusable conduct. And my response was always the same — if you come here, you’re expected to follow American norms and U.S. laws.

There’s a reason why Suzy Lopez, state attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit of Florida, is prosecuting Cuz Choc, and not some magistrate in Guatemala. Crimes committed here are U.S. crimes, regardless of the statuses of either the victim or the defendant. And if a U.S. citizen stabbed two people — one a toddler — in a scene out of the Manson family, you’d likely be told every detail by a sensationalist media.

The Benefit of the Doubt. Returning to my main point, for the moment I’ll give the Biden DHS the benefit of the doubt and assume that Cuz Choc was a “got-away”, that is an alien who entered illegally and evaded agents to make his way into the interior.

Fox News has reported that there were more than 670,000 got-aways in FY 2023, on top of 606,000-plus the prior fiscal year — nearly 1.3 million aliens at large in the country who deemed it appropriate, or expedient, to skip the usual “apprehension/processing/release” cycle that the administration has made the norm at the border.

Beating and stabbing another person to death, let alone stabbing a toddler in a tub, is rarely the first crime anyone commits. Most criminals are “upward offenders”, that is they start small and work their way up. If all of the reported facts are correct, Cuz Choc fits that bill.

All of that raises the question of how many other migrant fugitives from crime abroad were among the almost 1.3 million got-aways at the Southwest border in the past two fiscal years, and how many future victims are thus doomed to meet the alleged fates of this mother and child. It’s rhetorical, but don’t expect to get answers from most in the national media.