A grand jury has charged a decade-long veteran of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with capital murder for the slaying of four women, including a transgender woman, in Texas this past fall. “Juan David Ortiz, a 10-year veteran of the agency who worked in intelligence, was arrested in September and charged with four counts of murder,” The Washington Post reported. “But the grand jury upgraded the charges.”
“In describing why the indictment was for just one capital murder charge instead of four murder charges,” NBC News reported, Webb and Zapata County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz “said a person ‘commits capital murder if the person intentionally or knowingly causes the death of more than one individual during different criminal transactions but pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct.’”
Ortiz confessed to killing the women during a 10-day murder spree in September, during which he reportedly used his government position to monitor the authorities’ investigation into the killings as he carried out his violence. Ortiz nearly killed a fifth woman, and there is no doubt that Erika Peña saved lives after she escaped his truck and helped lead authorities to his whereabouts.
Alaniz said that Texas will be seeking the death penalty against Ortiz, who was targeting sex workers in his murder spree. Sex workers in the U.S. are already vulnerable “to extreme rates of physical, sexual and emotional violence.” Alaniz said “he deemed them scum of the earth and wanted to move forward and clean the streets of these types of people.”
This is the brutal culture of violence that plagues federal immigration agencies.
“According to Southern Border Communities coalition, Border agents have killed 77 people since 2010, not including these four women. Border patrol and ICE have terrorized communities for decades.” Months after she was shot along the Texas border, we still don’t even know the name of the border agent who killed Claudia Patricia Gómez González, an unarmed indigenous woman.
The women’s names were Guiselda Alicia Hernandez, Claudine Ann Luera, Melissa Ramirez, and Janelle Ortiz, who was also known to some friends as Nikki Enriquez. “It’s heart-breaking,” her friend Stephany Gonzalez told USA Today. “We knew all four of the victims. We sit down and talk and we cry and we laugh. We remember all the stuff they used to do.”