PHOENIX -- The man who led police on an 80-mile high-speed chase through the Valley Tuesday told 3TV in a jailhouse interview that he ran to avoid deportation.
Police arrested Efrin Espinoza, 25, in the Buckeye area after a chase that often exceeded 100 mph on Interstate 10. According to Arizona Department of Public Safety officials, Espinoza slipped behind the wheel of his 17-year-old friend’s car and took off while the friend was outside the vehicle talking to an officer who had pulled the pair over in LaPaz County.
Dressed in black-and-white striped jail clothes, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s standard-issue pink socks and cuffed at the wrists, Espinoza detailed his past problems with deportation and illegal immigration. He said his papers were pulled in 2008/2009 and he has been deported for illegal boarder jumping twice since then.
“I'm an illegal alien. I'm not from here," said Espinoza, explaining why he ran from police despite the fact that he wasn’t the one being pulled over in the first place. "I try to escape, ya know what I mean, so I didn't have to go back to Mexico and suffer again."
Espinoza said he and his friend were driving to Phoenix from California where he was living part time with his mother. He was returning to Phoenix to move his pregnant wife and three kids back to California.
“I didn't want to lose my kids or family. I told my… [wife] on the phone, ‘They're pointing guns at me, what do I do?’ And she said, ‘Well go. Try to make it home so I can see you,”’ Espinoza said.
He fled the place where his friend had been pulled over and led police on a high-speed chase that eventually ended in Buckeye. Police arrested Espinoza after using spike strips to puncture the tires of the car he was driving.
Espinoza told 3TV he really thought he could get away at first. After he realized he wouldn’t escape he said he considered surrendering twice but kept going for two reasons.
"What do you do if you got a big gun pointed at your head? You're going to run. Obviously, that’s what I did," Espinoza said of his first reason for continuing to flee, before saying his wife was the second reason. “I had her on the phone, too, while I was doing the high-speed chase and I told her, 'Baby, you're the only one who can stop me,' ya know what I mean. But she was telling me on the phone to keep going, to keep going, to try to make it home. So that's what I was doing.”
Police said the high speeds involved with the chase put many lives in danger. Espinoza said that’s why he granted the jailhouse interview with 3TV.
“I want this interview just to say I'm sorry to all the people I put in danger… That’s not what I intended,” Espinoza said. “If you do the crime, you do the time. Hopefully I'll get deported soon. If not, I'll do my time here. I gotta man up for my actions.”
Espinoza is facing a drug charge, two driving infractions and illegal flight from police. He will likely be deported.