Charges of assault and animal abuse against two federal border agents were dropped in Sana Cruz County, Arizona, courts. A surveillance camera captured U.S. Border Patrol Agent Aldo Arteaga punching a juvenile detainee in the stomach in a Nogales Station holding cell on January 30, 2014. On February 15, 2014, a different surveillance camera recorded U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agent Edgard Garcia forcefully slamming a 7 year-old service dog onto the ground. Arteaga was charged with assault and Garcia was charged with animal abuse.
According to Nogales International, the video of Arteaga showed the juvenile, who had been detained while allegedly acting as a guide for illegal immigrants, crouching in a holding cell, then standing up and putting something in his pocket. The teen reportedly admitted that he had been using a prohibited cellphone. Arteaga then opened the door, reached into the teen’s pocket and punched him in the stomach. The teen stumbled backwards across the room, fell to the floor, and curled up in the fetal position.
Arteaga’s attorney wrote in a memo that the agent believed the juvenile had assumed a “threatening stance” and that Arteaga “used physical force to protect himself from what he believed was the imminent use of physical force by (the juvenile).” Justice of the Peace Emilio Velasquez dismissed the assault charge without prejudice on June 10, 2015, at the request of the County Attorney’s Office out of concern that the teen would not be able to attend the trial. However, charges could still be re-filed against Arteaga.
In Garcia’s case, another CBP officer reportedly witnessed him pick up female service dog named Veda by its choke chain, “pull the dog up over his shoulder, and then slam the dog down on its side onto the concrete,” according to a DHS report. A court filing stated Garcia pulled on the dog’s leash while trying to get it to focus better on sniffing vehicles for drugs, and a veterinarian found no signs of injury on the K9 after the incident. The animal abuse charge Garcia had agreed to plead guilty to was dropped after he completed a diversion program that involved an animal welfare course and 30 hours of community service.
After these incidents, both agents were placed on administrative leave. CBP has not returned calls to Nogales International regarding their current duty status.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.