Trial Begins for 2nd Man in Alleged Kidnapping/Attempted Murder of Border Patrol Agent

Fernando Puga
Photo: Dona County Sheriff's Department

The trial of the second suspect in the alleged kidnapping and attempted murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent began in a New Mexico court on Monday. The first suspect pleaded guilty to attempted murder earlier this month.

Third District Attorney’s Office prosecutor Daniel Sewell told jurors during opening arguments in the trial of 33-year-old Fernando Puga that the suspect repeatedly hacked Border Patrol Agent Lorenzo Hernandez with a machete after he and Sergio Ivan Venegas-Quiñonez, 35, kidnapped the agent.

“[Puga] hacked him on his fingers, on his wrist, on his arms, on his legs, on his belly, on his side, on his back, and on his head,” Sewell said. “He hacked him a great deal and almost hacked him to death.”

The video of the opening argument from District Attorney Sewell is provided by KVIA, ABC7.

Breitbart News Border/Cartel Chronicles Director Brandon Darby first broke the news of the kidnapping and assault of Agent Hernandez in June 2017:

A leaked official document from the El Paso Sector Intelligence and Operations Center reveals that the injured off-duty Border Patrol agent who was discovered on the side of a roadway on June 9, 2017, is believed to have been kidnapped prior to sustaining severe injuries to his “head, chest, and hands.” Breitbart Texas exclusively obtained the document from a trusted source operating under the umbrella of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The document does specifically identify that a Border Patrol agent was kidnapped and assaulted. The document also asserts that the FBI in El Paso, Texas, is leading the investigation. The document also warns law enforcement agents. It asserts, “Agents are advised to remain vigilant and maintain a heightened level of awareness.”

Officials later named Venegas-Quiñonez as one of the suspects in the case. Sources within CBP told Breitbart News that the suspects allegedly have connections with the Juarez Cartel, or its enforcement arm, “La Linea.”

Sewell told the jury that Henandez went to help his mother close up her roadside tamale stand. While he was there, he was approached by two men, Puga and Venegas-Quiñonez. The men told Hernandez their car had broken down and asked him to give them a ride back to their vehicle.

“After they had been driving a few minutes, Mr. Venegas in the back seat pulled out a handgun,” the district attorney said. “Fernando Puga in the front seat pulled produced a machete that he had on his person.” He described the machete as being about 12 inches or more in length.

The duo forced Hernandez to drive to a location 40 miles away — a spot near the Rio Grande River northwest of Las Cruces, New Mexico. In fear of his life, Hernandez attacked Venegas-Quiñonez and knocked the gun from his hand. At that point, Puga allegedly struck Hernandez with the machete while he fought with Venegas-Quiñonez. He allegedly hacked Hernandez multiple times with the machete leaving him “bleeding a great deal.”

Somehow, Hernandez managed to gain control of the handgun. “He tried to fire it,” Sewell explained. “He was unable to fire it at either of them.” He then dropped the gun and began fighting Puga, the prosecutor stated. Both suspect then began to fight Hernandez who eventually “played dead,” he continued. Believing he was dead, or dying, the suspects left him behind.

After the suspects fled the scene, Agent Hernandez managed to stand up and look for help. He eventually made his way to a house where the residents called 911 for help.

The Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Department arrested Venegas-Quiñonez and a co-defendant a few days later, Breitbart News reported. He identified Puga as the second suspect and provided an address.  Police arrested Puga on June 1, 2018.

On April 8, Venegas-Quiñonez pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Agent Hernandez, Breitbart News reported. The court dismissed aggravated battery and assault charges as part of a plea agreement. The court also dismissed a second criminal case against the man.

Under New Mexico sentencing guidelines, Venegas-Quiñonez faces up to nine years in state prison for the second-degree felony conviction of attempted murder. Prosecutor Sewell is recommending a sentence of seven years, the local newspaper reported. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 2, 2019.

Court records obtained by Breitbart News reveal that Puga faces charges of attempted first degree murder, aggravated battery, and aggravated assault. Records also indicate the suspect has an assigned probation officer.

In December 2016, Puga pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property in another New Mexico court, records revealed. Prosecutors dismissed a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon as part of the plea bargain. The court sentenced him to 228 days of probation.

The trial for Fernando Puga is expected to last several days.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.


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