A U.S. Border Patrol Agent has been arrested on suspicion of murdering four women and kidnapping another one in Texas.
Juan David Ortiz was taken in custody after a woman he had allegedly kept captive managed to escape and went to police. At the time of his arrest, Ortiz was hiding in the parking lot of a hotel.
The bodies of two of Ortiz’s alleged victims were found earlier this week, while the other two bodies were found early Saturday morning.
Webb County Sheriff Martin Cueller said his department has “strong evidence” to believe the agent murdered the women, who are believed to be sex workers.
Authorities discover 2 bodies overnight bringing the weeks total up to 4. They are investigating a person of interest at this point. We will have more information hopefully in the coming hours. @KGNSnews #laredo pic.twitter.com/SEkireJcVy— Harry Sullivan (@SullyKGNS) September 15, 2018
This is an alarming, although not entirely unimaginable, scenario.
Unfortunately, sex workers face a high risk of physical assault from both their clients and law enforcement officials.
These women form part of the most vulnerable section of the workforce in the country. Their work is often not recognized as legitimate and warrants little legal security from the government.
Given that any governmental efforts to “help” sex workers are aimed at criminalizing their work, police officers find it especially easy to detain and inflict violence upon their bodies.
Last month, a police officer fatally shot a sex worker after she resisted his attempts at forcing her inside his vehicle.
With this lack of protection, sex workers are often under attack from serial killers. A 2006 study showed that one third of all deaths of sex workers are due to a serial killer who wants to enact grisly violence on the bodies of women.
Ortiz is a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol agency, which means he also used to deal with immigrant women and children – another vulnerable group of people who fled their homelands in distress.
Prior to his arrest, Ortiz had reportedly been working as a supervisor with the U.S. Border Patrol in a town located roughly 150 miles south of San Antonio on the Texas-Mexico border. He is likely to face four charges of murder and one charge of aggravated kidnapping.
The incident should also worry Americans on another account: The unchecked power given to law enforcement officials in the U.S. and how that power is often used to murder and antagonize bodies of women – especially women of color and immigrants.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Loren Elliott