Border Patrol agent charged with murder

Officials say decapitation connected to Gulf Cartel

Port Isabel-South Padre Press


Joel Luna.

A six year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol has been charged with capital murder in connection with the death of Jose Francisco Palacios Paz, whose decapitated body was found floating in the Laguna Madre in March. Authorities say the case has ties to the Gulf Cartel.

Joel Luna, who worked at the Border Patrol station in Hebbronville, was arrested on Nov. 5 in Jim Hogg County.

“Through the investigation it was discovered that Joel Luna was a participant in the distribution of a controlled substance, a participant in the murder of Jose Francisco Palacios Paz, and tampering with evidence,” Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said in a press conference Friday morning.

The decapitated body of 30-year-old Palacios Paz, whose name was previously reported to be Franklin Rodriguez Palacios Paz,  was found by two fishermen in Tompkins Channel near the South Padre Island Convention Centre in mid-March. He was naked and his body showed signs of trauma, especially to the chest, officials said then.

Lucio didn’t elaborate on what role Luna may have played in the gruesome murder, but did share how Cameron County investigators, led by Capt. Carlos Garza, made the connection between Luna and Palacios Paz.

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