A United States Border Patrol Agent in Laredo, TX is accused of killing four women and kidnapping a fifth. Authorities are calling him a serial killer.
On Saturday, Webb County Sheriff's department arrested Juan David Ortiz, 35, an intel supervisor for Border Patrol after a woman he is alleged to have kidnapped escaped and sought help. Police officers found Ortiz hiding in a parking garage. He was charged with four counts of murder as well as aggravated assault and unlawful restraint.
The arrest comes after a two-week killing spree that left four women dead in South Texas. District Attorney Isidro Alaniz of Webb County said Ortiz is suspected of shooting all four victims since September 3.
"We have probable cause to believe that he is responsible for this series of murders, which I would qualify as a serial murderer," said Alaniz.
The Laredo Morning Times reports that the first victim, identified as Melissa Ramirez, 29, of Laredo, was found on September 4.
The second victim, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, was found wounded and in critical condition on September 13. She was rushed to the hospital and later declared dead.
The third and fourth bodies, who have not yet been identified, were discovered close to the location of the first two victims on September 14 and 15.
This is the second time this year that a Border Patrol Agent in Laredo has been accused of homicide — in April, supervisory Border Patrol agent Ronald Anthony Burgos-Aviles, 29, was accused of killing his 27-year-old partner and the couple's one-year-old child, and has since been indicted on charges of capital murder.
On Saturday night, Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar issued a statement saying that his office has “advocated for and implemented new standards during the hiring process as well as new standards of professionalism after joining Border Patrol...Just this afternoon I spoke with CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to talk about the situation in Laredo. We have agreed to work together on the hiring and professionalism of border patrol agents.”
Nationwide, both Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection have come under fierce criticism after a series of violent incidents involving agents.
The New York Times reports that two years ago, a senior Border Patrol agent in Del Rio, TX was charged with distributing child pornography and attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. In 2014, Border Patrol agent Esteban Manzanares attacked and sexually assaulted three undocumented immigrants: a woman and two teenage girls from Honduras. He killed himself as police were attempting to make an arrest.
The Southern Border Communities Coalition, which brings together 60 organizations from San Diego, CA to Brownsville, TX, tracks cases of those that have died as the result of an encounter with U.S. border agents. They report that there have been at least 77 incidents since January 2010, many which are under-reported in the media.
Ortiz, who is a 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol, is said to be cooperating fully with law enforcement.