What started as a surrender of three female undocumented immigrants, one woman and two teenagers, resulted in their rape and apparent suicide of their alleged aggressor.
On Wednesday evening, Border Patrol agent Esteban Manzanares detained a Honduran woman, her 14-year-old daughter, and another teen of the same age, by the edge of the Rio Grande River just outside Mission, Texas, a city inside the Rio Grande Valley region. According to the Associated Press, the women immediately surrendered. But instead of taking them into custody, Manzanares allegedly proceeded to rape and brutalize the woman and her daughter, leaving them for dead. Manzanares then took the other girl to his apartment nearby where he bound and gagged her before returning to his shift. Once finished, he returned home and sexually assaulted the girl.
CBP were alerted of what had transpired after the unnamed woman tripped a camera, which alerted other agents of her presence, according to local area paper The Monitor. They eventually found her, and her statements led local authorities to Manzanares’s apartment. When they approached the apartment on Thursday morning, they heard gunfire. By the time they they broke into the residence, Manzanares was already dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The other 14-year-old girl was found alive and taken into custody.
The incident has justifiably caused outrage amongst politicians and human rights advocacy groups.
"Events such as these understandably increase our communities’ distrust of federal law enforcement agencies, especially immigration officers,“ Jim Harrington, Director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, told Fusion via email.
“The horrible events of this week reflect a pattern of excessive violence and abuse, for which government officials should be held accountable.”
The horrific events also prompted Congressman Joaquin Castro—representative of Texas’ 125th district and twin brother of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro—to write a letter to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, asking for clarification on what the agency’s procedure is for circumstances like these.
For CBP’s part, Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske issued a statement related to these horrendous crimes.
“I want you to know that I consider these actions, if true, to be reprehensible and I know they are not representative of the agents of the U.S. Border Patrol,” he stated.
“Right now, we are fully cooperating with the FBI who is conducting the investigation into these allegations and working diligently to make sure the victims are receiving the proper care and attention.”
It’s worth pointing out that, as the San Antonio Express-News noted, this isn’t the first time a Border Patrol agent has been accused of criminal activity.
Also worthy of mention is the fact that Manzanares was already under investigation for a prior incident.
Calls to the Customs and Border Patrol Agency were not immediately returned, and the agency has yet to respond to Fusion’s request for comment.
Fidel Martinez is an editor at Fusion.net. He's also a Texas native and a lifelong El Tri fan.