Five to face capital murder charges in beheading

BROWNSVILLE — Today five men, including a U.S. Border Patrol agent, will appear before a judge for their formal arraignment on charges including capital murder.

The five are accused in the beheading of a Honduran man whose body was discovered in the Laguna Madre last March.

Investigators said Honduran native Jose Francisco “Franklin” Rodriguez Palacios Paz’s body was discovered by fisherman on March 16, 2015. Authorities believe he was likely killed in Edinburg .

Charged in his murder are Fernando Luna Rodriguez, 35; Aaron Rodriguez Medellin, 22; Eduardo Luna Rodriguez, 24; and Nestor Manuel Leal, 18, and Border Patrol agent Joel Luna, who was arrested in November.

The five men were charged with capital murder for retaliation, first-degree murder and two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity, a first-degree felony. The group was indicted on the charges in January.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol released a statement yesterday surrounding Joel Luna’s arrest and his status with the federal agency.

Officials said Joel Luna was assigned to the Hebbronville Station and was arrested on False Claim to United States Citizenship on November 12, 2015.

Luna joined the U.S. Border Patrol in 2007 during a hiring surge that took place between 2006 and 2008.

“At the time of hiring, the agent complied with all the application requirements established, but a recent investigation conducted by CBP revealed several discrepancies in his application package which disqualified this individual from being a Border Patrol agent,” the statement read.

Officials said according to an internal investigation conducted by CBP, this incident is considered an isolated case.

According to the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office Luna has been placed on indefinite leave from the Border Patrol.

The five remain jailed in a Cameron County jail.