Border Patrol Agent’s Killer Sentenced to Death in South Texas

Javier Vega
Photo: Heroes Memorial Foundation

Six days after convicting one of two men responsible for murdering a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was fishing with his family in 2014, a jury found that the man should die by lethal injection. The other defendant is still awaiting trial.

Jurors in the border city of Brownsville, Texas, decided on the death penalty instead of an automatic life in prison in the case against Gustavo Tijerina for his role in the shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega. Tijerina, a Mexican national who was living illegally in South Texas, was recently convicted on the charge of capital murder for his role in murdering Vega during a robbery gone wrong, Breitbart Texas reported. The man also received a conviction for attempted capital murder after shooting Vega’s father, Javier Sr.

In 2014, Vega, his wife, children, and his parents were fishing in Willacy County, near Lyford. Tijerina and Ismael Vallejo tried to rob the family, setting off a fierce firefight where Vega died and his father was wounded. Tijerina and Vallejo were captured after an intense manhunt by state, local, and federal agencies. Vallejo is expected to go to trial in the near future where prosecutors are expected to also seek the death penalty.

Vega’s death led to a battle between the former leadership of the U.S. Border Patrol and the union that represents them, the National Border Patrol Council, since the agency would not classify Vega’s murder as a line of duty death. It wasn’t until 2016 when under mounting pressure from the union and various politicians, the agency reclassified Vega’s murder.

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. He can be contacted at

(Disclosure: Breitbart Texas sponsored the Green Line podcast for the NBPC in an effort to provide a platform for agents to inform the public about the realities on the border and what Border Patrol agents face. Director Brandon Darby received an award from the Laredo chapter of the NBPC for his work in helping to defend and bring a voice to Border Patrol agents. Breitbart News assisted in covering funeral costs for the slain agent discussed in this article.)


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