LAREDO, TX – This past weekend, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) supervising agent was arrested for killing four women and kidnapping a fifth woman who managed to escape.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Webb County, Texas, 35-year old Juan David Ortiz confessed to killing four women, one of which was a trans-woman, between September 3rd through the 5th. Webb County-Zapata County District Attorney, Isidro Alaniz, stated that all five victims were sex workers and labeled Ortiz as a serial killer.
These serial killings committed by the ten year CBP veteran are another addition to the long list of abusive and murderous behavior claims for the agency. In a 2014 article, Vice News reported that CBP agents shot to death 46 people in the past decade, 15 of whom were American citizens.
“Agents have shot people they suspected of throwing rocks on the Mexico side of the border. They have shot people while they ran away. In other incidents, unarmed individuals died from Tasers or beatings,” the article reads.
As you can see, the agency continues a trend of violent behavior and excessive force from agents in the past. Most recently, the agency has been under scrutiny after a number of children and parents detained under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy reported physical, mental, and verbal abuse from CBP agents.
Records show children being threatened with rape, being called “prostitutes” and “dogs,” even being forced to answer questions while standing nude in front of CBP officers the Chicago Tribune reported.
With so many complaints, reports, and deaths, one must wonder why our federal government intends to increase their funding and recruitment capabilities.
This agency and their officers are attacking the most vulnerable communities. Many of these victims are undocumented immigrants, however, other vulnerable communities, like sex workers, and the transgender community are also being targeted.
CBP agents already ooze fear in border communities.
“Someone at that authority level and, you know, having that type of ranking just brings more distress and more fear in our communities,” Marlene Chavez, a human rights activist and community advocate living in the Rio Grande Valley told NPR, “I mean, there’s already a prevalence of fear.”
A fear being increasingly strengthened by the racist and xenophobic rhetoric of the current administration.
What Ortiz’s killing spree shows is how that fear can in turn empower and embolden agencies with a long history of abuse and violence towards people of color.
It seems that under the Trump administration, some of these agents are developing a false sense of entitlement, going from agents to crusaders for the Trump administration.