On November 18, 2017, the headlines screamed that a Border Patrol agent had been killed by undocumented immigrants or Mexican criminals near Van Horn. Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was found dead at the bottom of a drainage tunnel. The Trump administration proclaimed the death a murder because of a lawless border.
Local sheriff Oscar Carrillo, on the other hand, suspected that Martinez had simply fallen to his death in the darkness. No one wanted to listen to him.
It was the height of the Build the Wall movement and Bad Hombres killing border agents made the perfect back drop for an administration intent on building a wall along the U.S.-México border to protect America.
The FBI has investigated the agent’s death and has yet to determine what happened that night. The FBI conducted over 650 interviews and scoured for evidence but has been unable to decide whether it was a homicide or an accident.
The El Paso medical examiner concluded that the El Paso agent died from “blunt injuries to the head” but was unable to determine what led to the injuries.
Sheriff Carrillo still believes that it was an accident, but he told NPR on April 2, 2018 that “they didn’t want the truth.”
The only other witness to the death was Martinez’ partner, Stephen Garland.
The FBI investigation revealed that Garland told the Border Patrol dispatcher that both agents were hurt after running “into a culvert,” just as Sheriff Carrillo surmised. Garland later told investigators that he doesn’t remember what happened that night.
In addition to the numerous interviews, the FBI also spoke to first responders, searched numerous locations and collected and analyzed evidence. The FBI reported on February 7, 2018 that the evidence they compiled “would not support the existence of a scuffle, altercation, or attack on November 18, 2017.”
In other words, the likely scenario is that both agents ran into the culvert and one died from his injuries.
Regardless of what the evidence suggests, the death of Martinez is still used for politicizing the border.
On January 9, 2018, Brandon Judd, testified at the House of Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. Judd was testifying on behalf of the National Border Patrol Council. The council is a labor union that represents employees of the Border Patrol.
Judd told the House committee that “in 2017, assaults on Agents were up 76 percent to reach 774.” Judd told the committee, that the assaults, “included the tragic death of Agent Rogelio Martinez.”
Judd routinely rings the clarion for more border security because the lawless border will kill many more Americans. Most recently, Judd has been using Covid-19 as the backdrop for border insecurity.
However, Judd’s own union is mired in charges of corruption. In February 2020, the FBI opened an investigation into the El Paso branch of Judd’s union after about half-a-million dollars went missing from the union’s coffers.
Criminality among border patrol agents is on the rise. The Border Patrol’s internal documents show how pervasive and endemic criminality is among the ranks of the border patrol agents tasked with securing America’s homeland.