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20 years for Border Patrol agent convicted of corruption

January 31, 2017

BROWNSVILLE — Former Border Patrol agent Joel Luna is found guilty of engaging in organized criminal activity, but is acquitted of capital murder and murder in the death of a Honduran immigrant.

The punishment phase of the trial was expected to begin this afternoon, but prosecutors and the defense attorney reached an agreement on a sentence.

The state recommended 25 years in prison, but it was reduced to 20 years in exchange for no appeals on Luna’s part. He will be formally sentenced in a month. He faced up to 99-years in prison.

Luna’s brother Eduardo was found guilty on all four counts in the death of Jose Francisco Palacios Paz. His decapitated body was found floating in the Laguna Madre.

Judge Ben Euresti Jr. sentenced Eduardo Luna to mandatory life in prison without parole.

Fernando Luna, the eldest of the three Luna brothers, was originally charged with capital murder, murder and two counts of engaging in criminal activity along with his brothers and two other men.

But Fernando negotiated a plea with the state for 10 years’ probation or a three-year sentence in exchange for his testimony against his brothers. He will be sentenced on Wednesday morning.

The jury deliberated nearly eight hours on Monday and several hours on Friday.