NOGALES, Ariz. — A Mexican citizen wanted in his native country for the murder of an off-duty Border Patrol agent eight years ago was turned over to prosecutors from the Mexican Attorney General's Office at the border crossing here Wednesday morning by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Jose Arturo Arreola-Lopez, 25, is charged with murdering Tucson Sector Border Patrol Agent Jorge Luis Salomon Martinez near Bacocahi, Sonora, Mexico, in September 2003. Arreola and three other suspects are accused of killing Martinez because of his status as a Border Patrol agent. According to Sonoran prosecutors, the defendants snuck up behind Martinez while he was socializing with others near a river and beat him, pelting him with rocks. They eventually crushed his skull with a 50-pound rock.
ERO agents first encountered Arreola at the Martin County Jail in Fairmont, Minn., in March following his arrest for drug possession. ICE agents lodged an immigration detainer against Arreola and he came into ICE custody a month later.
"ICE is proud to have played a role in ensuring Jose Arreola is held accountable for his actions in this heinous crime," said Katrina S. Kane, field office director of ICE ERO in Phoenix. "We hope the fact he is now going to face justice will bring some small measure of peace to Agent Martinez's family and his colleagues in the Border Patrol."
"ICE agents' vigilance resulted in the discovery that this subject was wanted for the murder of a Border Patrol Agent several years ago," said Randy Hill, chief patrol agent of the Tucson Sector Border Patrol. "Losing a member of the Border Patrol family is a tragedy. However, this action today sends a message to anyone who would contemplate bringing harm to a Border Patrol Agent – there will be justice – no matter how long it may take."
An immigration judge ordered Arreola removed from the United States April 26. ERO agents enforced that removal order Wednesday and transferred custody of Arreola to Mexican prosecutors from the Procuraduria General de la Republica at the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry.