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Tag: New Mexico

Suspected Human Smuggler Charged with Shooting Border Patrol Agent in Chest

By Steve Neavling

A suspected human smuggler is accused of shooting a Border Patrol agent twice in the chest during a traffic stop in New Mexico. 

The unidentified agent was protected by body armor and fired back at the suspect, Roberto Esquivel, KRQE reports.

The encounter occurred on New Mexico Highway 146 near Animas on Jan. 5, when the agent pulled over Esquivel for suspicious behavior. 

Five other people in the car admitted they were from Mexico and weren’t properly documented. 

The encounter turned violent when the agent asked Esquivel to step out of the vehicle. Esquivel shot the agent twice in the chest before the agent fired back. 

Esquivel sped off but crashed his car a few miles down the road. 

Six people were arrested, and two were being treated at a hospital in El Paso. 

Esquivel allegedly admitted during an interview that he was driving the migrants to Deming for $300 per person. 

Esquivel is facing four charges, including attempted murder of a U.S. officer.

Border Patrol Agent Shot at Checkpoint in New Mexico, Six Arrested

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent was shot at a checkpoint in New Mexico on Thursday, and six people are in custody. 

The suspects were inside a car when one of them allegedly shot an officer, assigned to the Lordsburg station, in the chest around 11:30 a.m. on State Highway 46, CBP said in a news release.  

The agent, who was wearing body armor and survived the shooting, returned fire as the vehicle sped away. 

The vehicle rolled over in a crash a few miles up the road. 

All six people inside the vehicle were arrested. Two of them were airlifted to a trauma center in El Paso, Texas. 

The FBI, state police and other agencies are investigating. 

Man Who Kidnapped, Attacked Border Patrol Agent with Machete Was Sentenced to 31 Years in Prison

Fernando Angel Puga

By Steve Neavling

A New Mexico man who kidnapped and brutally beat an off-duty Border Patrol agent with a machete in June 2017 was sentenced to 31 years in prison, the Justice Department announced Tuesday

Fernando Angel Puga, 37, of Las Cruces, and his co-defendant Sergio Ivan Quinonez-Venegas, of Mexico, were arrested nearly two years after the attack. 

A federal jury found Puga guilty of kidnapping, carjacking causing serious bodily injury and transportation of a stolen vehicle in interstate commerce in May. 

Agent Lorenzo Hernandez, who is assigned to the agency’s Deming area, was helping his mother at her food truck when two suspicious men, one of whom had a gun, asked Hernandez for a ride on June 9, saying their car had broken down. 

Worried that the men would harm his mother and minor brother and nephew, Hernandez offered the strangers a ride in his 2014 Ford Focus.

One of the suspects stuck a gun into Hernandez’s ribs and said, “This is a kidnapping.”

During a 50-mile drive to an area outside of Las Cruces, the suspects threatened to kill him. When the car stopped, Hernandez confronted the men outside of his car and a struggle over the gun ensued. 

Puga struck and stabbed Hernandez with a machete. 

Hernandez was taken to the hospital with fractures to his skull and arms and severe stab wounds to his body and fingers.

“When faced with a deadly situation, the victim fought off the attackers and managed to escape,”  Jeffrey R. Downey, special agent in charge of the FBI’s El Paso Field Office, said in a statement. “The courage and determination showed by the victim is awe-inspiring. The victim was not only able to escape but also assist law enforcement in the identification and arrest of the defendant and bring about the justice deserved in this violent abduction. We hope this sentencing will help the victim heal from the physical and mental wounds inflicted in this horrific incident.”

Quiñonez-Venegas was arrested June 13 and told FBI agents that he was forced to participate in the kidnapping by Puga. Two days later, the FBI and a local sheriff’s office arrested Puga, who claimed he was kidnapped by Quiñonez-Venegas.

“I am thankful that this violent criminal will have a long time behind bars to reflect on his heinous actions while the community is made safer,” U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff said in a statement. “I am also hopeful that the victim experiences healing and finds some solace in defendant’s removal from society. I laud the efforts of our law enforcement partners who worked to bring Puga to justice.” 

Quiñonez-Venegas was sentenced to five years in prison on Sept. 29. 

FBI Offers Reward for Information on Vandalism of Petroglyphs in New Mexico

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible for vandalizing the Native American petroglyphs at La Cieneguilla near Santa Fe. 

Authorities say the petroglyphs, which date to between the 13th and 17th centuries, were spray painted. 

The vandalism occurred on or about Jan. 19. 

“Visitors from around the world come to New Mexico to admire wonderful Native American cultural resources like the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs,” Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda of the Albuquerque FBI Division said in a statement. “It’s hard to believe someone would try to ruin these priceless works of art and show such disrespect for this area’s unique heritage. The FBI is asking anyone with information about this vandalism to come forward so we can ensure this crime doesn’t go unpunished.”

The property is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 

“The impacts of damage to these petroglyphs reach beyond public enjoyment of the landscape; it destroys the tribal history within this sacred place,” BLM Taos Field Manager Pamela Mathis said. “Additionally, this atrocious act takes away from critical scientific, historical and social resources that society cannot recreate.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI at (800) CALL-FBI or online at tips.fbi.gov. 

FBI Investigates Shooting Involving Homeland Security Investigations Agents in New Mexico

Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating a shooting involving Homeland Security Investigation agents in New Mexico. 

The shooting occurred at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday near Route 66 Casino, the FBI said in a statement.

No agents were injured, but “one subject” was wounded. 

Details of the shooting remained murky Wednesday. 

Raul Bujanda Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Albuquerque Field Office in New Mexico

Special FBI Agent Raul Bujanda

By Steve Neavling

Raul Bujanda has been appointed special agent in charge of the FBI’s Albuquerque Field Office in New Mexico. 

Bujanda joined the FBI as a special agent in 2002, when he served in the Portland Field Office in Oregon and investigated violent crime, gang, and Mexican-based drug trafficking organizations.

Bujanda then joined the El Paso Field Office in Texas in 2008 to work on the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force strike force, which included members from the DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, and Border Patrol. He also continued to investigate Mexican-based drug trafficking organizations. In 2010, Bujanda was promoted to supervisory special agent of the El Paso strike force.

In 2013, Bujanda became unit chief in the Criminal Justice Information Services Division in West Virginia.

In 2015, Bujanda was tapped to serve as assistant inspector and team leader in the Inspection Division at FBI headquarters. He was promoted in 2016 to assistant special agent in charge of the National Security Branch in the Oklahoma City Field Office before serving as the assistant special agent in charge of Oklahoma City’s Criminal Branch, where he worked criminal violations and administrative matters.

Bujanda was named section chief of the Criminal Investigative Division’s National Covert Operations Section in 2019, managing and overseeing all criminal and national security undercover operations for the FBI.

Before joining the FBI, Bujanda was a special agent in the Immigration and Naturalization Service and a fifth-grade teacher.

Border Patrol Agent Saves Life of Woman Stranded in Desert During Snowstorm

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent in New Mexico is credited with saving the life of a woman with hypothermia who was stranded in the desert during a snowstorm. 

Agents from the Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station were called to help two people stranded in the desert on Monday. The couple had been exposed to the bitter cold for three days, and one of them was unresponsive and showing signs of hypothermia. 

An arriving agent requested medics, and after rendering aid to the woman, he carried her a half mile to his vehicle.  When EMS arrived, the medics transported her to a hospital. 

It turned out the couple had COVID-19. The responding agent has been quarantined pending testing. 

“Although I’m extremely proud of the heroic actions by our agent, this event once again illustrates the high risks of COVID-19 exposure that exists for our Border Patrol agents,” El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez said in a statement.

“Our agents will place themselves in harm’s way, go any length, to render aid to those in need, not knowing the victims are COVID-19 positive.  Now we will take measures to quarantine our agent, sanitize and decontaminate the vehicle, and ensure our agent gets tested due to the COVID-19 exposure.”

Man Accused of Shooting FBI Agent in New Mexico Faces 20 Years in Prison

Derick Garcia

By Steve Neavling

A man accused of shooting an FBI agent who was helping execute a search warrant at an apartment in New Mexico last week was formally arraigned in federal court on Tuesday. 

Derick Garcia, 23, of Albuquerque, was charged with assault on a federal officer, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. 

The agent, who has not been identified, was struck in the forearm, taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital for care and is recovering. 

The bureau said the agent was wearing a marked vest identifying him as an FBI agent when he and other agents knocked, announced they were with the FBI and had a warrant. 

“Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe,” said James C. Langenberg, special agent in charge for the FBI’s Albuquerque Field Office said in a news release. “FBI special agents courageously accept the danger as part of their job. Fortunately, our agent who was shot on Friday while performing his duty is out of the hospital and recovering. His bravery is an inspiration to all of us at the FBI who have sworn an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and defend the American people, regardless of the sacrifices that may be asked of us.”

Garcia was taken into custody after the shooting.