Saturday, 17 November, 2018

FBI Investigation Finds No Evidence That Border Patrol Agent Was Murdered

Rogelio Martinez FBI says no evidence of attack on dead Border Patrol agent
Ray Hunter | 11 February, 2018, 05:38

An investigation into the mysterious death of a Border Patrol agent a year ago that included 650 interviews and 26 searches in Texas and New Mexico found no evidence of a "scuffle, altercation or attack", according to a statement from the El Paso FBI field office.

Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez, 36, was found with grave head trauma at the bottom of a roadside culvert along a desolate span of Interstate 10 on November 18. Martinez later died from his injuries.

On Twitter, President Donald Trump said the injured agent had been "brutally beaten" and called again for the construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a Border Patrol dispatcher working the night Martinez died got a call from his partner, who was "disoriented" but able to report they were both injured. Investigators said Garland made a statement to the effect of "We ran into a culvert", "I ran into a culvert", or "I think I ran into a culvert". Martinez also had broken ribs and a clavicle.

But Ms. Ochoa said that in the days before he died, Mr. Martinez had been complaining of headaches and neck tension.

About 11:20 p.m. Martinez and another agent, Stephen "Michael" Garland, were found injured near a concrete-lined culvert - a tunnel used for water drainage.

Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, said an attack from behind would explain why investigators found no evidence of a struggle. The FBI began investigating the incident as a "potential assault" but released few details early on and cautioned against speculation.

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Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo, one of the first responders to the scene, told the Dallas Morning News he thought the agents could have been sideswiped by a tractor-trailer traveling along the darkened interstate.

An informant familiar with human smugglers told Border Patrol officials that a pair of brothers recently smuggled across the border had admitted to assaulting the agents, according to a warrant later filed to search the brothers' auto in New Mexico.

The FBI is offering a reward for information and said that 37 of its field offices were involved in the "top priority" investigation, which included 26 searches in Texas and New Mexico and turned up two "persons of interest" who were found not to be involved, while "several individuals" were arrested on suspicion of an unrelated immigration offence.

"To date none of the more than 650 interviews completed, locations searched, or evidence collected and analyzed have produced evidence that would support the existence of a scuffle, altercation, or attack on November 18, 2017", FBI El Paso Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie said in a statement.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson declined to comment on the case. "Our view is he was attacked", he told CNN, referring to the FBI's investigation. "Our view hasn't changed". FBI agents questioned the brothers, but ruled them out as suspects in the agent's death, although they were charged in federal court with alien smuggling, according to court documents. "I honestly believe they will", he said. "There's no way he fell and dropped off that culvert".

"If you got hit from behind and didn't have a chance to defend yourself, then how would you defend yourself?"

The FBI said it will "pursue any new and relevant tips and leads" and will continue to offer a $50,000 reward "for information leading to a resolution to this case".

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