Suspects Arrested In Attack On Border Patrol Agent
Dona Ana County, NM – Two men, Sergio Ivan Venegas-Quinonez, 33, and Fernando Puga, 31, have been arrested in the June 9 kidnapping and brutal attack on an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent, according to KFOXTV.
The arrests are the result of an investigation led by the FBI, involving 125 federal agents and other law enforcement officers from the El Paso Police Department, Socorro Police Department, Horizon City Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.
The Border Patrol agent, Lorenzo Hernandez, age 30, was found about midnight along the side of the road off Shalem Colony Trail west of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
He had serious injuries to his head, chest, and arms, and was transported to University Medical Center in El Paso, where he is listed in critical condition. Additional medical examination showed that Hernandez had ‘internal brain bleeding, a fractured skull, multiple lacerations to his chest, and two partially amputated fingers on his right hand.’
The incident began earlier that day, June 9, when Hernandez was helping his mother at her tamale stand in northeast El Paso.
In a statement, Hernandez said the two suspects approached him, and said their car had broken down. He agreed to give the men a ride to a nearby gas station, although his mother urged him not to, saying “something didn’t feel right.”
Hernandez told his mother he was fine and would be ‘right back’. They left in his car with one suspect in the front passenger seat, and the other suspect in the back seat.
After a few minutes, the men pulled out a gun and a machete, and told him to follow their orders. He said that they drove into New Mexico, and ‘stopped at a water canal.’ Hernandez said the men told him to get out of his car, and when he did, he said he went after the suspect who had the gun.
The second man then began striking Hernandez with the machete, and he was so badly injured that he was unable to run or to try to get help.
The FBI said that Venegas-Quinonez and Puga forced Hernandez to drive his car 46 miles ‘to a semi-rural area about 100 yards from the Rio Grande, in the 6000 block of Shalem Colony Trail.’
When he did not return, his mother told deputies that she asked a friend to try to locate her son through a locator app on his cellphone’. It ‘pinged’ on I-10, north of Mesquite.
On that same night, about 11:40 PM, a Dona Ana County deputy was dispatched to Paradise Trail near Shalem Colony Trail. He found a man lying by the side of the road, seriously injured, who was identified shortly after as Hernandez.
Venegas-Quinonez was arrested at a construction site in El Paso on Tuesday afternoon, June 13, on outstanding warrants for aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and aggravated assault. He is in custody in the El Paso County Jail, awaiting extradition back to Dona Ana County.
He is a Mexican citizen and an illegal immigrant in this country, with nicknames of Solo Vino and Pedro.
Puga was arrested about 12:15 PM on Thursday, June 15, at the Community of Hope Center in Las Croces, by 10 law enforcement officers including the FBI, on warrants for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and attempted murder. He is in custody in the Dona Ana County jail, and was initially under $1 million bond. His first court hearing was Friday, June 16, and his bond was reduced to $200,000 secured.
Puga, whose nickname is Cholo, has an extensive criminal history in Texas. Since 2003, he has been arrested numerous times including charges for aggravated robbery, burglary, evading arrest, marijuana possession, and assault on a family member, among other charges.
Federal kidnapping charges were filed against both suspects in El Paso on Friday June 16.
Our thoughts and prayers are with injured Border Patrol Agent.