Friday, January 20, 2017


By Jay Root
The Texas Tribune
BROWNSVILLE — Prosecutors on Thursday were able to tie Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna to some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars his brothers allegedly smuggled to Texas from Mexico, but they didn’t prove he had any direct involvement in the murder he’s accused of committing.

Luna is one of five defendants the state charged with capital murder and drug trafficking after the naked and headless body of Franky Palacios was discovered floating in the waters off South Padre Island in March of 2015.
The Border Patrol agent is on trial now in Cameron County along with his younger brother, Eduardo, whom prosecutors tie to the powerful Mexican Gulf Cartel. Their older brother, Fernando, took a plea deal and has spent the last day and a half testifying against his two brothers — a defendant turned star witness.

During several tedious hours of testimony, Fernando explained in detail how the murder occurred, saying that it was his younger brother Eduardo who shot Franky in the head and then dumped his body at a spot where he once went fishing.

Joel was not at Veteran's Tire Shop in Edinburg, where prosecutors believe Palacios was killed, at the time of the shooting, and the only discussion Fernando recalled having with him about the murder occurred after their younger brother Eduardo got arrested more than three months later. The federal agent did want to know, however, if blood had been spilled at the murder scene, Fernando said.

“[Joel] asked me what had happened, because Eduardo was detained, under investigation, and I told him what he had done,” Fernando said. “And he asked me if there were bloodstains. And I told him that yes, there was one small one. He shook his head and he left.”

Fernando also said after the murder he wiped text messages off of his phone in order to protect Joel from blowback at work since the defendants were in the country illegally and could jeopardize his employment at the Border Patrol.

“I erased them, with regards to my brother Joel, to not damage him, knowing that he had a good job and we had done something wrong,” said Fernando, growing emotional as he spoke.

The testimony came as prosecutors sought to bring Joel more directly into a trial that has largely centered on a murder that Fernando pinned on Eduardo, known as “El Pajaro,” or the bird. That’s the nickname etched onto a gold-plated gun authorities retrieved during the investigation. The barrel is also stamped with the phrase “Cartel del Golfo” — Gulf Cartel.

Chief prosecutor Gus Garza asked Fernando to discuss a transaction in which he and “El Pajaro” received an estimated $250,000.

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1 comment:

CC Taxpayer! said...

If this agent was present when one of his brothers shot him and knew about the disposing of the body and never reported it or tried to stop it, he is guilty! As a sworn officer, it was his duty to report or stop this killing. Then he has money and dope in HIS safe? This agent is guilty! I cannot understand how six agents testified on his behalf? With all this circumstantial evidence against him? I hope that a jury of his peers find him guilty!