World: Border patrol agent arrested in connection with murders of 4 people

Border patrol agent arrested in connection with murders of 4 people

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A U.S. Border Patrol agent was arrested in South Texas on Saturday in connection with a calculated killing rampage that left four people dead in recent weeks around the city of Laredo, the authorities said.

Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said police officers arrested Juan David Ortiz early Saturday after a woman who claimed she had been abducted by Ortiz escaped half-clothed and sought help at a gas station in Laredo.

“We consider this man to be a serial killer who was preying on one victim after another,” Cuellar said. “Fortunately, he’s now been apprehended.”

The case is the latest in a series of recent gruesome episodes involving Border Patrol agents, and comes at a time when protesters and some Democratic lawmakers are seeking to curb the actions of immigration officials.

Ortiz, 35, was found hiding in a truck in the parking lot of a hotel in Laredo, a city of about 250,000 people on the southwest border with Mexico. He was arrested on suspicion of evading arrest. District Attorney Isidro Alaniz of Webb County said authorities were prepared to also charge Ortiz with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated kidnapping.

Alaniz said Ortiz is suspected of shooting the four victims, two of whom were identified Saturday as Melissa Ramirez, 29, and Claudine Luera, 42. Luera was found still alive but in critical condition Thursday near a stretch of Texas Highway 255, but she died at a hospital.

Another female victim remained unidentified and was referred to as Jane Doe, Alaniz said. The fourth appeared to be a transgender woman, but authorities referred to her as John Doe. Alaniz said he believed that all the victims worked as prostitutes in the Laredo area.

“At this time we believe the suspect was acting alone,” Alaniz said, describing Ortiz as a supervisory agent who had worked as a Border Patrol agent for a decade.

Alaniz said authorities tracked down Ortiz after a woman, also described as working as a prostitute, escaped after having been abducted. She claimed that the agent had torn off her blouse before she could run away from his vehicle. She ran until she found a police officer at a nearby gas station.

She then described the suspect to the officer and provided details about his vehicle and his home, Alaniz said.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Simon Romero and Manny Fernandez © 2018 The New York Times

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