Sheriff: Police shooting marks 1st bona fide 'spillover' violence in
November 01, 2011 10:06 AM
EDINBURG — A police shooting that stemmed from a botched drug
transaction and kidnapping Sunday afternoon is being labeled the
first reported incident of spillover violence in Hidalgo County by
Sheriff Lupe Treviño.
While other law enforcement officials, such as Texas Department of
Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, call Hidalgo County the center
of spillover violence in Texas, Treviño repeatedly disputes those
claims and is quick to dispel talk about cartel-related attacks in
But the circumstances surrounding Sunday's shooting, in which a
suspect was killed and a deputy was injured, were enough to make him
"say it like it is."
"I have to say … this is our very first reported spillover-violence
event that we have experienced," he said. "And unfortunately, it got
one of our deputies shot."
The shooting that led to the arrest of six suspects is directly tied
to the Gulf Cartel, Treviño added.
"The reason that I am going to classify it as spillover violence is
because this particular incident was the result of a violent
confrontation and a crime that occurred in Mexico that obviously …
spilled over the river onto our side," he said.
It all began with the September death of a Gulf Cartel boss, who was
in charge of operations in Reynosa, Treviño said.
When Samuel "Metro 3" Flores Borrego, 39, was found gunned down along
a Mexican highway amid a syndicate power struggle, "there was a lot
of chaos with the Gulf Cartel," Treviño said.
The cartel began losing a lot of its narcotics to rival gangs and
even its own members, he said. So when a new leader was appointed,
one of the first directives issued was to recuperate its losses.
It's unclear how, but Gulf Cartel members traced one of their stolen
loads to some suspected dealers north of Elsa, Treviño said. That's
when the Mexican cartel sanctioned two members of the Partido
Revolucionario — a U.S.-based prison gang comprising mostly illegal
immigrants — to buy a load from them.
The hired gang members, however, had an ulterior motive, the sheriff
said. They were supposed to pretend to buy the drugs in order to
learn the location of the stash house, where the stolen goods
allegedly were hidden.
The gang members — one was killed in the shooting and the other is in
custody — carried out the deal Sunday, but not at the stash house,
Treviño said. When they realized that, they kidnapped both dealers in
an attempt to force them to disclose the location.
That's when deputies Manuel Morales and Hugo Rodriguez received the
call about a possible kidnapping near Val Verde Road and Farm-to-
Market Road 2812, Treviño said.
The deputies spotted the brown Ford F-150 pickup truck that the gang
members took from one of the dealers about 5:30 p.m., Treviño said.
They had the two suspected dealers, whose wrists and ankles had been
bound with tape, in the vehicle, along with a 9 mm gun and a
semiautomatic AK-47 rifle.
The kidnappers cut the tape when they saw the officers, but they did
not completely remove it, giving the kidnapping victims some credence
to their account, Treviño said
It only took about two-and-a-half minutes for the traffic stop to
escalate to the shooting.
"When things go bad, they go bad quickly," the sheriff said.
While Morales spoke to the driver, Rodriguez approached the
passengers, Treviño said. But when he was about five feet away from
them, the front seat passenger opened his door and began shooting at
Rodriguez with the 9 mm gun. Rodriguez was shot three times, but only
one bullet penetrated because he was wearing protective gear.
"The bulletproof vest saved his life because the bruise is right
above his heart," the sheriff said of one of the blunted shots.
Rodriguez remained hospitalized in stable condition Monday. A bullet
was still lodged in his femur, but doctors didn't know if they were
going to extract it, Treviño said. Deputies are keeping guard at the
hospital and are also protecting his family around the clock for fear
Investigators identified the shooter — whom the deputies killed
shortly after — as Daniel Gonzalez Perez, 19. Toxicology reports
indicated Gonzalez Perez had high levels of cocaine in his body at
the time of the shooting.
U.S. Border Patrol agents caught the illegal immigrant from Rio Bravo
at least three times in connection with human smuggling, but he was
never prosecuted and was instead voluntarily removed from the country
each time since September 2009 with the most recent removal in March,
Sheriff's investigators are not sure who shot whom or how many shot
were fired, but the clash ended with Gonzalez Perez dead and the
driver, whom investigators have not identified, shot in the head and
in serious condition, Treviño said.
Deputies arrested the vehicle's two other occupants.
Investigators executed two search warrants at locations where the
narcotics transaction was said to have taken place, Treviño said.
Only one of those bore fruit.
Deputies found a third weapon, also a 9 mm gun, and two bricks of
marijuana that weighed about 50 pounds inside a mobile home near the
scene of the shooting, investigators said.
Officials are now working with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to trace the weapons because no one
reported them stolen, Treviño said.
Investigators made at least three more arrests in connection with the
search, he said. They also launched a fourth investigation to locate
the stash house.
Six suspects are expected to face charges of possession of marijuana
Tuesday, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office.
Investigators hope to file more serious charges, including attempted
capital murder and aggravated kidnapping, "in the near future," the
Investigators and prosecutors were trying to determine if the law of
parties can be applied, which could extend the more serious charge of
attempted capital murder to a suspect who did not physically shoot at
Rodriguez but did serve as an accomplice, Treviño said.
Dashcam video captured the entire clash, but officials are not
releasing it because of the ongoing investigation, he added.
Naxiely Lopez covers law enforcement and general assignments for The
Monitor. She can be reached at (956) 683-4434.