EDINBURG, Texas — Three men and a woman are facing capital murder charges for their role in the kidnapping, torture, murder, and dismemberment of a local street-level drug dealer. The various body parts that made up the victim’s body were later found in a makeshift grave on a rural tract of land in South Texas.
The group also kidnapped and tortured another man in the same operation but released him shortly after. While the three men charged with murder are members of cartel-connected gangs, the gruesome execution appears to be a personal feud tied to the theft of drugs. Breitbart Texas could not confirm if the female murder suspect is a member of a gang.
The case began on November 8, when sheriff’s deputies responded to a home on Mon Mack Road north of Monte Cristo Road in rural Edinburg, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra told Breitbart Texas.
Authorities found a ransacked home and signs of a violent struggle; including blood stains on the driveway and inside the house. Crime scene investigators found a bullet casing and blood splatter consistent with someone shot inside the house. Video from surveillance cameras show a suspect vehicle arrived at the location and the same vehicle dragging a man toward a nearby orchard.
Investigators were able to identify the kidnapping victims as 32-year-old Jose Angel Martinez and 55-year-old Ricardo Moreno. Days later, a badly-beaten Moreno was freed and sought out authorities. In recent days, sheriff’s investigators discovered Martinez’s body; he was dismembered and buried in a crude grave.
Authorities were able to identify 43-year-old Hector Guerra, a member of the Texas Chicano Brotherhood–along with 32-year-old Gabino Salinas and 21-year old Benjamin Sanchez, members of the Mexican Mafia. Authorities identified and most recently arrested 27-year-old Sandy Lutz Rodriguez also on the charge of capital murder.
According to the FBI’s National Gang Report, the [Texas] Chicano Brotherhood has a working relationship with the Gulf Cartel while the “Eme” or Mexican Mafia cooperate with multiple drug cartels including Sinaloa, Los Zetas, and others.
The four suspected kidnappers were arrested and charged with various offenses including one count of capital murder per defendant. If convicted, each of the three suspects face either death by lethal injection or life in prison.
Sheriff Guerra revealed to Breitbart Texas that while three of the suspects are known gang members, the murder is not tied to gang activity but to an ongoing feud between Guerra and Martinez over a home invasion.
According to authorities, Martinez and Moreno are considered street-level and in April, Guerra led a home invasion at the same house where the kidnappings took place. During the invasion, Martinez is believed to have fired back at the gunmen, leading to Guerra losing his leg.
As Breitbart Texas reported, home invasions in South Texas can involve teams of gunmen raiding rural stash houses to steal money or drugs. Several resulted in shootouts and murder. In various cases, gunmen have entered wrong houses and shot innocent victims.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.
Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.