Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was 16-years-old when he was killed by Border Patrol agent Lonnie Ray Swartz on Oct. 10, 2012. Rodriguez wasn’t committing a crime when Swartz unloaded his weapon. He wasn’t even in the United States when it happened.
The latest edition of the New York Time Magazine features a shocking profile on Rodriguez’s tragic death and how his murder is very representative of how messed up the Border Patrol truly is. The night Rodriguez was killed, two smugglers were trying to jump the fence back to Mexico after dropping off their cargo somewhere in Nogales, Ariz. Agents of the Nogales Police Department and the local Border Patrol station were standing around watching these two men escape when Lonnie Ray Swartz pulled up to the fence, got out of his car, and fired at Rodriguez at least 15 times through the fence. According to the autopsy report, Rodriguez was hit by 10 bullets. He was shot in the back. Swartz reported that Rodriguez was throwing rocks at him from Mexico. The investigation dismissed this claim.
Despite the very damning evidence that Swartz straight up murdered Rodriguez for no apparent reason, nothing happened to him. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, the agency in charge of these types of investigations, did nothing.
It wasn’t until Raner Collins — Chief U.S. District Judge of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Arizona — ordered that Lonnie Ray Swartz’s identity be revealed that any charges against the agent were brought. On Sept. 24, 2015, nearly three years after Rodriguez’s death, Swartz was charged with second-degree murder.
This was the first time ever that a Border Patrol Agent was charged for killing a Mexican citizen on the other side of the fence. If anything, Rodriguez’s murder shone a light on just how far the Border Patrol goes to protect their own. You can read more about this tragic incident and how screwed up the Border Patrol really is here. And for good measure, you should also read the Texas Observer’s shocking expose of the agency’s corruption.
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