The alleged getaway driver in a fatal police shooting in South Texas had previously been deported and had ties with the Gulf Cartel in Matamoros, according to court records obtained by Breitbart Texas. The shooting incident led to the death of San Benito Police Department Lieutenant Milton Resendez.
One of the two suspects behind the fatal shooting of San Benito Police Lieutenant Milton Resendez was in the country illegally, had previously been deported, and had known ties with Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, the documents revealed.
Rodrigo Axel Espinoza Valdez, from Mexico, is being held at the Cameron County Jail on charges of capital murder and evading arrest with a motor vehicle. Authorities described Espinoza as the vehicle’s driver during two separate chases where another man reportedly shot at police several times using a rifle and handguns.
The alleged shooter, Rogelio Martinez, remains behind bars in the same jail on a charge of capital murder, as well as theft and multiple counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer. Martinez is a U.S. citizen from Brownsville, Texas, who is also believed to have ties with individuals involved in drug smuggling.
Federal court documents revealed that in 2019 U.S. Border Patrol arrested Espinoza after he rafted across the Rio Grande in Brownsville. At the time, a federal judge ordered his deportation and credited him for time served. Breitbart Texas consulted with Tamaulipas State Police sources, who revealed that while Espinoza does not have prior arrests in Tamaulipas, intelligence information links him to a cell of human smugglers operating for a faction of the Gulf Cartel in Matamoros
The chain of events that led to Lt. Resendez’s murder began on Tuesday afternoon when a Cameron County Park Police officer tried to stop a vehicle for speeding near South Padre Island.
According to Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz, Espinoza and Martinez were in the vehicle with two women and two small children. Martinez, who was driving the vehicle at the time, physically fought with the park police officer, got back in his vehicle and drove away. Authorities spotted the red GMC truck in Port Isabel. Police tried to stop the duo, setting off a high-speed chase that turned into a rolling shootout. During the chase, Martinez, who was in the vehicle’s passenger side, reportedly got a rifle and began shooting at the police vehicles chasing them. The gunfire struck several police cars. Officers initially fired back, but they stopped and fell back out of fear of striking innocent motorists.
Authorities tracked the two men to the border city of Brownsville, where they tried to arrest them. A second police pursuit ensued. The two men were riding a black Ford Expedition during the second pursuit.
During a streamed news conference, San Benito Police Chief Mario Perea said his department received information that a chase was underway that was moving toward his city. One of the officers responding to the chase was Lt. Resendez. The lieutenant came under fire as he encountered Espinoza and Martinez.
“The suspects shot an unknown amount of rounds at Lt. Resendez’s vehicle,” Perea said, adding that two rounds hit the police car. One of those rounds hit the lawman in the abdomen just below his body armor — fatally injuring him. “Lieutenant Resendez was transported to Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, Texas, where he succumbed to his injuries.”
Authorities continued chasing the suspects as they turned around and made their way towards Brownsville, where Texas Department of Public Safety troopers carried out a PIT maneuver on the fleeing gunmen near the intersection of Ringgold and International Boulevard. The two men tried to run away, but authorities arrested them. At the time of the arrest, police indicated the two suspects were each carrying a handgun.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.