Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Defense attorney Carlos Garcia (r.) confers with former Border Patrol agent Joel Luna.

By Jay Root
Texas Tribune
A Cameron County jury on Tuesday found Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna guilty of engaging in organized criminal activity but acquitted him of the murder charge that could have put him in prison for life without the chance of parole.

His younger brother Eduardo, an alleged hitman for the Gulf Cartel, was convicted on all four counts, including capital murder. He faces a mandatory life sentence.

Both were on trial for the same four counts, which included engaging in drug trafficking and organized crime — and murdering a would-be snitch who threatened to rat them out.

Because it involved a U.S. Border Patrol agent, the case stoked concerns about federal law enforcement corruption along the U.S.-Mexico border. Joel Luna faces five to 99 years in prison for one of the counts and 15 to 99 years for the other, both with the possibility of parole.

His sentencing hearing is set for 2 p.m. We will be updating this story later today.

Related Tribune coverage:
When Franky Palacios Paz was found floating naked and decapitated off South Padre Island, the local sheriff thought the murder would lead investigators back to Mexican drug cartel violence. He didn't expect a U.S. Border Patrol agent to be among those arrested.


Anonymous said...

County DA fails to get a conviction yet again. Sloppy investigations and a rush to indict have been a weakness during the tenure of Luis Saenz. His case against the County Tax Assessor-Collector is falling apart also.

Anonymous said...

Back pay coming his way....

Anonymous said...

A pero la gente queria a luis saenz!!!

Anonymous said...

How did they lose? He was found guilty of 2 of the 4 charges. It is said he will take a 20 yr sentence on both counts. Don't agree with you on this one.

Anonymous said...

Jumped the gun. Made an arrest too soon. It's called investigations. Shold of waited not like Joel was gonna leave the country and quit his day job. Amateurs at their worst.

Anonymous said...

And now it's wait and see for the izaguirre verdict. The case against izaguirre is falling apart... Great job Saenz.. (sarcasm) A DA should never lose case. They get to choose what cases to prosecute. Watch. Izaguirre will be acquitted on all charges..

Anonymous said...

20 years and an agreement to not appeal the case --- not a total loss for the state. That agreement not to appeal seems like a smart move by Saenz. Historically he gets a conviction on a big case and it ends up reversed on appeal.

Anonymous said...

Another smart move by Saenz was getting Rigo Bocanegra to run for office in Cameron County . TEAM SAENZ and Rigo Bocanegra 2018