No Evidence Border Patrol Agent's Death Was A Homicide

Glen Norman
February 11, 2018

The FBI says it has found no foul play in the mysterious death of a border agent beside a remote West Texas highway last November in an incident that many assumed to be a homicide, and which prompted calls for greater border security. Both agents were found at the bottom of a culvert alongside I-10 near Van Horn the night of November 18th.

The autopsy report, released Tuesday night, said Martinez suffered brain hemorrhaging and fractures to the skull, eye socket, right ribs and collarbone, as well as contusion of his right shoulder, according to Dr. Janice Diaz-Cavalliery, assistant El Paso County medical examiner.

The office of Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) similarly called Martinez's death a "murder case" and offered a reward of up to $20,000 for information "leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and the serious injury of another".

Martinez would die hours later from head injuries, according to preliminary information from the medical examiner. Martinez's partner, who has not been identified, told a Border Patrol dispatcher, according to an Federal Bureau of Investigation statement.

"The second Border Patrol agent also 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, '" the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.


He also said something about running into a culvert, but the dispatcher could not make out exactly what he said.

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

Garland survived the fall but has told investigators he has no memory of what happened and has not spoken publicly about the incident.

An autopsy report released Wednesday only added another layer of confusion, deeming the cause of Martinez's death "undetermined". The FBI in El Paso said Wednesday it can not find any evidence that an attack led to his death.

Early on in the investigation, the FBI said it was investigating the death as a "possible assault" but refused to rule out other possibilities, such as a fall or a auto accident.


Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carillo, who was one of the first responders on the scene, said at the time that there had been an increase in accidents on the heavily trafficked roadway, with truck drivers swerving out of their lanes because of heavy wind drafts.

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' vehicle in New Mexico.

The FBI says the investigation remains open and inconclusive, but its statement counters hasty conclusions by some conservative politicians and law enforcement figures who assumed unauthorized immigrants committed a brutal murder in the lawless borderlands. "Our view hasn't changed".

The FBI has not publicly stated that the agents fell, but McAleenan's memo is consistent with working theories of what happened, according to investigators. "It seems to me that they don't have any leads".

"The FBI had identified two persons of interest, but through forensic analysis both have been determined not to have had anything to do with the death of Agent Martinez and the injuries to his partner", according to the statement. "It's just dumb, the physics aren't there".


The FBI and the state of Texas have offered a $70,000 reward for information in this case.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER