Border Patrol Officer Confesses to Serial Killings

While Immigrations and Customs Enforcement at large has attracted considerable media attention for its cruelty, the Border Patrol has been out of control for a long time, with accusations of harassment, rape, violence, and sabotaging humanitarian supplies. Now, a Border Patrol agent has confessed to killing four women in a strikingly short period of time — will this just be the beginning for this serial killer?

The saga started with two deaths that were under investigation by law enforcement. Juan David Ortiz was only caught because one of the women he targeted managed to escape and reach a state trooper for help. After his arrest — in which authorities said he tried to instigate a case of “suicide by cop” — he eventually confessed to the killings of four women in the span of four weeks. Shockingly, two of them happened after his attempted victim escaped and before he was arrested, indicating a pattern of rapidly escalating behavior.

The four women he targeted were sex workers. Authorities say he had an animus for sex workers, and he clearly profiled his victims with care, knowing at least some of them before their murders. They include Melissa Ramirez, Janelle Ortiz, Claudine Luera, and a fourth victim who remains unidentified pending notification of her next of kin. All of them were shot in the head at short range.

Sex work, especially survival sex work, can be very dangerous because the criminalization of the profession leaves people vulnerable to exploitation: Women who experience rape, wage theft, harassment, stalking, and other crimes may be hesitant to report because they fear retaliation by law enforcement or think officers won’t believe them when they report.

Law enforcement officers are well aware of these issues and people like Ortiz can leverage the vulnerability of sex workers to their advantage. The sex work community in the area of Laredo, Tx., is on edge because of the killings, as they’re a reminder of how dangerous it can be to work in the sex industry without social supports.

Ortiz has worked for the Border Patrol for nearly ten years, and was employed in intelligence. Authorities say he was off-duty at the time of the murders. As his case is investigated, more information may unfold about whether he used access to information and other privileges through his work to identify and stalk potential targets.

Border Patrol officials were swift to say that Ortiz was a “rogue” that didn’t represent the agency as a whole, but this isn’t the first time an agent has been accused of heinous crimes and a disregard for human life. In 2012, an agent shot a teenager across the border, and was later acquitted of murder. Another agent was arrested earlier this year in a double homicide.

Law enforcement agencies in general have a reputation for tolerating abusers in their ranks, including people who abuse the power of the badge and other privileges to get access to victims, along with people who commit intimate partner violence behind the “thin blue line” that offers protections to abusive law enforcement officers. In the Border Patrol, dehumanizing policy can exacerbate these attitudes, especially when some join the agency with racist ideas in mind. The agency’s failure to address these systemic problems creates a perfect storm for people like Ortiz.

As investigation proceeds, the public may learn more about whether Ortiz committed additional murders, but hopefully the public will also learn more about the Border Patrol’s hostile environment and start thinking about how to reform the agency.

Photo credit: Jonathan McIntosh/Creative Commons


Jetana A
Jetana A20 days ago

Arizona occasionally executes felons via lethal injection. This psychopathic agent is a prime candidate!

Leo C
Leo C22 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

Carole R
Carole R23 days ago

This is just awful.

Leo C
Leo C23 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

Larry McDaniel
Larry McDaniel23 days ago

Thank you

Lorraine Andersen

I hope they throw the book at him.

Brian F
Brian F23 days ago

I think he should get the death penalty. All law enforcement officials are entrusted with the highest degree of responsibility. These cowardly killings will continue unless we send a strong message to the border patrol that abusing their power and authority will not be tolerated. The families of these poor women who were raped and murdered by this psyco deserve justice.

Sherry Kohn
Sherry K23 days ago


Danuta W
Danuta W23 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Toni W
Toni W23 days ago