Border Patrol agents help solve 17-month-old cold case in Harlingen

October 4, 2016

Authorities have identified hand fragments of a murder victim found 17 months ago in Harlingen, according to a Tuesday news release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to the newly created RGV Missing Migrant Initiative (MMI) along with the Evidence Collection Team (ECT) have identified the remains of an unidentified Mexican man, the release states.

Once the identity was discovered, the RGV MMI coordinated with Cameron County Forensic Pathologist, Elizabeth Miller and the respective Consulate to locate and notify the individual’s family in Mexico.

“Despite all of our extensive efforts, had we known or had this initiative been in operation at that time, it could have saved us months of time,” Miller said in the release.

“In reference to the collaboration made possible by the RGV Missing Migrant Initiative, this has happened incredibly fast and what we foresee now is a great relationship for us and the families of missing migrants,” she added.

The remains, more specifically fragments of a hand, were discovered in April 2015 and were in the custody of the Cameron County Forensic Pathologist. The subject’s identity was unknown until ECT assets were able to make a positive match by photographing the ridge details of the remaining fingerprints, according to the news release.

RGV Sector Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla, Jr. stated this was an effort to save lives by reducing the number of migrant deaths and bring closure to the families of individuals who perish while traversing the “treacherous international border.”

“Each day, hundreds of migrants place their lives in the hands of ruthless smugglers, when this occurs, family members who have lost track of their loved ones should contact the consulate of their country,” states the release.

For emergency assistance, migrants in distress are urged to call 9-1-1 and their respective consulate. The RGV MMI can also be contacted by email at southtexasmissingmigrant@cbp.dhs.gov.