Advocates had already expressed concern about the integrity of the probe into Cruz Marcos’ killing, noting “multiple red flags in this investigation.” The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) said the sheriff’s office didn’t recover his body until the day after he was killed. SBCC also raised worries about any involvement from the notorious Border Patrol Critical Incident Teams (BPCITs) that have for years worked to protect abusive border agents. It’s Border Patrol investigating itself.
Following pressure from advocates, the Biden administration said last week that it would be disbanding these cover-up units. SBCC Director Vicki Gaubeca called the decision “an important first step towards addressing the longstanding problem of Border Patrol impunity.” But she said the work for accountability was not yet done, adding that independent investigators must now “consider reopening these cases to ensure that families harmed find closure and justice.” Among the victims still in need of justice is 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, shot 10 times through border fencing a decade ago after also being accused of throwing rocks. BPCITs were involved in his investigation.
Members from the binational prayer group Frontera de Cristo held a vigil for Cruz Marcos in March, with his family, in Puebla, Mexico, tearfully watching through a virtual call. Arizona Daily Star reported at the time that his mother said she needed justice. “My heart hurts for what they did to my son,” she said in the report. “My grandchildren are suffering. My son was going to seek a better life for his children.”
Arizona Daily Star since reports that Cruz Marcos’ family has called “for an independent investigation of the incident by the FBI and has retained an attorney.”
In noting the disbanding of these cover-up units, SBCC said last week that Customs and Border Protection’s “lack of accountability and oversight paired with its culture of violence has resulted in the loss of lives of more than 200 U.S. citizens and noncitizens just since 2010. None of the agents involved have been held accountable. In fact, no agent in the near 100-year history of the agency has been convicted for countless homicides while on duty.”
"My husband was a gentle and peaceful man trying to provide for his family," Cruz Marcos’ wife, Yazmin, said in a statement from attorneys. "He would never threaten the Border Patrol, and it is despicable for the Border Patrol to claim that he did. We seek to clear his name, and we seek justice so other families won't suffer like we are suffering."
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