New memo says no evidence of crime in border agent death

New memo says no evidence of crime in border agent death
US Customs and Border Patrol via CNN
U.S. Border Patrol agent Rogelio 'Roger' Martinez, 36 died in November after being found severely injured near Van Horn in western Texas.

There was no evidence a crime was committed when a US Border Patrol agent was killed more than two months ago while on patrol in West Texas, according to a new government memo obtained by CNN.

The internal memo from Carla L. Provost, acting chief of US Border Patrol, is the third indication that there appears to be no evidence of foul play that led to the mysterious death of US Border Agent Rogelio “Roger” Martinez, who was found critically injured near a concrete-lined culvert along with his partner.

Provost’s February 8 memo, which was sent to Border Patrol employees, including the rank-and-file agents, lays out the findings of the FBI’s investigation up to this point. It also echoes an earlier memo from Kevin McAleenan, acting commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the border patrol.

“Currently there is no evidence indicating the presence of other persons or the commission of a crime,” Provost’s memo said.

“Unfortunately, the investigation up to this point has not revealed exactly what took place prior to the two [border patrol agents] being injured and what might have caused BPA Martinez to fall into the culvert,” Provost’s memo said.

Martinez’s family has been updated on the investigation, the memo said.

“The family, as we all do, still has unanswered questions,” the memo said.

Martinez, 36, was patrolling alone near Interstate 10 when he stopped his vehicle about 12 miles east of Van Horn, Texas, on November 18. He died hours later of his injuries after he and his partner, Stephen “Michael” Garland, were found hurt near the culvert, a tunnel structure used for water drainage.

The agents were patrolling in separate vehicles and it’s unclear why both ended up at the bottom of the culvert, the FBI said.

Last week, FBI investigators said they had found no evidence so far of an attack or scuffle in Martinez’s death. The FBI said it had interviewed hundreds of people, combed through cellular data and analyzed DNA from the scene.

McAleenan’s memo said “there were no defensive wounds” on Martinez or his partner and “there was no third-party blood or DNA evidence from the scene or from the agents’ clothing.”

The only footprints at the scene belonged to the agents and first responders, according to McAleenan’s memo.

Shortly after the incident, Texas politicians — including Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz — described the incident as “an attack.” A spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represented the officers, said it was an “ambush.” And President Donald Trump said the injured agent had been “brutally beaten” as he called again for the construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico.

Earlier this month, a medical examiner in Texas said Martinez died from blunt injuries to his head, but the manner of his death was “undetermined.”

Martinez’s injuries included fractures to his skull, right jaw, upper ribs and his right collarbone, according to an autopsy report released by the El Paso County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Chris Cabrera, the spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, said last week the union disagreed with the findings in McAleenan’s memo and the FBI’s account.

“Our view hasn’t changed. Our view is he was attacked,” he told CNN then, referring to the FBI’s investigation. “It seems to me that they don’t have any leads.”