Texas prosecutors charged a two-time deported criminal alien from Mexico in the cold case murder of a Texas auto shop owner. The foreign national is currently in federal prison following a conviction for illegal re-entry after removal.
Juan Eduardo Meraz-Flores is charged in the murder of a Fort Worth, Texas, auto shop owner in January 2007. The victim, Jose “Martin” Muñoz, reportedly got in an argument with a customer who allegedly pulled a gun and shot him in the head, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Muñoz left behind a widow and three children.
After recently re-opening the case, Fort Worth detectives tied evidence collected at the scene to the previously deported criminal alien who is currently in custody in federal prison, the newspaper reported.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers reported that Meraz-Flores has a long criminal and immigration history. His record includes drug possession, evading arrest, and criminal mischief and dates back to 2003. Immigration officials removed him from the country on two separate occasions in 2005 and 2009.
In 2014, Fort Worth police and ICE Homeland Security Investigation agents arrested Meraz-Flores during the Dallas Operation Community Shield Task Force operation. Federal prosecutors in the Northern District of Texas charged him will illegal entry after removal and sentenced him to 30 months in prison.
Following an “Out of the Cold” podcast by the Star-Telegram, police tied Meraz-Flores to the alleged murder and arranged for new charges to be filed, ICE reported.
“As law enforcement officers, we never know when the run-of-the-mill immigration case will reveal a more significant criminal history,” Enforcement and Removal Operations Dallas Field Office Director Bret Bradford. “Fort Worth police were able to quickly find an accused murderer in federal custody because our ICE officers did their due diligence to present him for prosecution for re-entry. We’ll never know if their actions saved other lives in this case, but there’s no doubt they helped — and continue to help — prevent crimes.”
“We know that this is really good big step, and we’re happy for that,” Muñoz’ oldest daughter, Viviana Munoz-Cardos, told the Star Telegram. “But at the same time, we’re really cautious in feeling too excited because we know there’s still a long way to go.”