A Border Patrol agent accused of shooting a teenager in Nogales, Sonora through the international border fence was arraigned on a charge of second-degree murder October 9, 2015 at the federal courthouse in Tucson. Agent Lonnie Swartz was indicted September 23 by a federal grand jury.
José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, sixteen years old, died October 10, 2012 from ten bullets fired mostly into his back, according to a ballistics report. Border Patrol agents said they had disrupted an attempt to smuggle drugs into the United States and were dodging rocks thrown from the Mexican side.
“It’s very unusual for a Border Patrol agent to be indicted for the murder of a Mexican national in a cross-border context,” said Luis Parra, a Nogales, Arizona attorney and member of a legal team that has filed a civil suit in federal court on behalf of Elena Rodríguez’s family. “To our knowledge, the indictment has no precedent.”
Every October since the shooting, people from both sides of the border have joined in processions to demand justice for Elena Rodríguez.
Text: Denise Holley.