1997 Rio Hondo murder suspects on DA’s most wanted list

BROWNSVILLE — The Cameron County District Attorney’s office is seeking the public’s help in collaring the 11 fugitives who are suspects accused of what DA Luis V. Saenz called the most “egregious crimes,” ranging from murder to aggravated assault and the continuous sexual abuse of a child.

Saenz said he asked felony prosecutors for their top two most egregious offenders.

“This is for the public, we need their help in making their community a safer place by locating these dangerous individuals. Child abusers are notorious for being recidivist, in other words re-offending,” Saenz said.

Saenz said that although none of the men listed have been convicted of the crimes they are accused of, they are fugitives from justice for failing to appear in court.

The DA’s office released the list Tuesday with mug shots of the 11 men and a warning that these men should be considered armed and dangerous.

The men include Benito Barrera Martinez and Juan Cardenas Castaneda, charged with the murder of Martin Villarreal in Rio Hondo.

According to an archived newspaper story, authorities identified Barrera as one of two suspects in the June 1997 death of the 29-year-old Villarreal.

Court records indicate Villarreal owed a Mexican drug lord $1.5 million as part of a marijuana deal that went bad.

The cold case was re-opened in April 2005 after witnesses told investigators with the Cameron County Sheriffs Department that Barrera, Juan “El Flaco” Cardenas Castaneda and other unidentified men had been sent to collect the debt from Villarreal.

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