FBI: No Evidence Deceased Border Patrol Agent Was Attacked

February 08, 2018

An autopsy shows that Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez died as a result of head injuries. The FBI in El Paso said Wednesday it cannot find any evidence that an attack led to his death.

The incident happened last November. Agent Martinez and his partner were on patrol near Van Horn Texas about 120 miles east of El Paso.

FBI special agent Emmerson Buie said in a statement that the field office conducted more than 650 interviews and said none of those turned up evidence of an attack.

The statement noted that a Border Patrol dispatcher spoke with Martinez's injured partner that night.

"Although disoriented and unsure of his location, the second Border Patrol Agent advised that both he and Agent Martinez were hurt. The second Border Patrol Agent also made a statement to the effect of, 'We ran into a culvert,' 'I ran into a culvert,' or 'I think I ran into a culvert.'"

The dispatcher also wrote into a Border Patrol log, “[He] thinks they (both agents) ran into a culvert.”

Martinez's death was immediately seized upon by members of the Republican Party.

The night after Martinez's death President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: "Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally, now running for Arizona’s open Senate seat called it a "murder" and said it should serve as a "wake up call to our country that we must have the resolve to secure our border and protect Americans from deadly threats like these.

Sen. Ted Cruz sent out a statement saying, "This is a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them."

The FBI continues to offer a reward of up to $50,000 for information on the case and provides this number: 915-832-5000 to call with information.

The FBI's entire statement:

El Paso – Today, FBI El Paso Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie is sharing findings to date of the investigation into the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez on November 19, 2017.

On the night of November 18, 2017, in the vicinity of mile marker 151 and approximately 12 miles east of Van Horn, Texas, Border Patrol Agent Martinez and his partner were seriously injured while on-duty and conducting routine checks of culverts in the area. Agent Martinez later succumbed to his injuries. The FBI has the jurisdiction and responsibility for investigating any matter involving the suspected assault of a federal officer, and took the lead in the investigation on the morning of November 19, 2017. To date, this investigation has not conclusively determined how Agent Martinez and his partner ended up at the bottom of the culvert and no suspects have been linked to this incident.

This investigation has been the top priority of the El Paso FBI Field Office, and the FBI has aggressively pursued all logical leads and investigative avenues. As part of this effort, the FBI has investigated multiple theories, including whether the Border Patrol Agents were ambushed or attacked or whether their injuries were as a result of an accident or any other relevant criminal activity.

Concentrated investigative activities and canvasses for witnesses and evidence have taken place across the United States. Additionally, a total of 37 separate FBI field offices and two Legal Attaché offices have assisted in conducting interviews and pursuing leads. A total of 26 searches have been carried out in Texas and New Mexico. As a result of these cumulative investigative efforts, more than 650 total interviews have been conducted, to include interviews of all federal, state, and local first responders present at the incident scene, as well as more than 55 medical personnel who treated and provided care to Agent Martinez and his injured partner at both medical facilities. Moreover, the FBI interviewed six personnel from Union Pacific Railroad which had locomotives in the area on November 18, 2017 and November 19, 2017. To date none of the more than 650 interviews completed, locations searched, or evidence collected and analyzed have produced evidence that would support the existence of a scuffle, altercation, or attack on November 18, 2017.

Evidence was developed that a Border Patrol dispatcher telephonically spoke with the injured partner of Agent Martinez. Although disoriented and unsure of his location, the second Border Patrol Agent advised that both he and Agent Martinez were hurt. The second Border Patrol Agent also made a statement to the effect of, “We ran into a culvert,” “I ran into a culvert,” or “I think I ran into a culvert.” The dispatcher also wrote into a Border Patrol log, “[He] thinks they (both agents) ran into a culvert.” The second Border Patrol Agent was instructed by Border Patrol radio dispatch to go to his Border Patrol vehicle and activate his emergency lights so that first responders could locate them.

The FBI had identified two persons of interest, but through forensic analysis both have been determined not to have had anything to do with the death of Agent Martinez and the injuries to his partner.

Additionally, the El Paso County Medical Examiner has now released the autopsy report indicating blunt injuries of the head as the cause of death. The manner of death is undetermined.

As a result of the investigative efforts of the FBI and its federal, state, and local partners in this investigation, several individuals were identified in Portales, New Mexico, and have been charged by indictment with offenses involving the smuggling of an alien. None of these subjects is currently a subject in the investigation into the death of Agent Martinez and the injuries to his partner. An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

During the course of this investigation, the FBI has received investigative support from multiple federal, state, and local agencies, to include the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, United States Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Professional Responsibility, Texas Department of Public Safety, CBP Air and Marine, CBP Office of Field Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, DHS Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DHS-Office of Inspector General, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Culberson County Sheriff’s Office, El Paso Police Department, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Socorro Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Office, Pecos Police Department, and Portales Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.

The FBI will continue to investigate the incident involving Agent Martinez and his partner, and will pursue any new and relevant tips and leads. The FBI continues to offer a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the resolution of this case. Please contact the FBI at 915-832- 5000 if you have any information.