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FBI searches vehicle in death of border agent

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

The FBI obtained a warrant to search a vehicle in Portales that may be linked to the death of a Border Patrol agent in West Texas.

The warrant, issued Dec. 2 by a federal judge in Albuquerque, is to search a Pontiac Grand Am for “trace evidence associated with the murder of a Border Patrol agent and assault of another.”

The search is based on a tip from an informer who contacted the Border Patrol to say he heard from a “coyote,” or human smuggler, that two brothers who live in Portales were present with a group of unknown immigrants during an assault with rocks on two agents near Van Horn, Texas.

Both agents suffered head trauma on Nov. 18. Agent Rogelio Martinez died the next day. His partner survived but told investigators he has no memory of the events that night. That agent’s name has not been made public.

Neither of the Portales men has been charged or arrested in connection with the FBI investigation. One of the brothers is in custody for crossing the border illegally.

“The action is one of the many leads we are pursuing,” said Jeanette Harper, FBI spokeswoman for the El Paso Division, which is handling the investigation.

Some other suspected possibilities for the agents’ injuries include an accidental fall or being sideswiped by a passing vehicle.

Harper would not provide additional details about other possible developments.

“The FBI is aggressively pursuing all leads from the 1-800 tip line,” Harper said.

The FBI on Monday continued to ask for help and doubled the reward for information about the Border Patrol agent’s death. This was after seeking a warrant for the vehicle in Portales and interviewing one of the brothers and others with knowledge of their whereabouts the night the injured agents were found at the bottom of a culvert.

Electronic billboards with the tip line 1-800-CALL-FBI, or 1-800-225-5324, are up in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California.

The FBI doubled the reward Monday to $50,000. The state of Texas is offering $20,000 more for a total of $70,000 for information that can help solve the case.