Two men accused in the brutal attack of an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent on June 9 are in custody.
On Tuesday, FBI agents in the El Paso Sector, with the assistance of Doña Ana County Sheriff’s detectives, arrested 33-year-old Sergio Ivan Vanegas-Quinonez on an outstanding warrant of aggravated battery (great bodily harm) and aggravated assault. He is currently in custody at the El Paso County Detention Center awaiting extradition to Doña Ana County.
Thursday, 31-year-old Fernando Puga of Las Cruces was taken into custody by Doña Ana County Sheriff’s detectives with the assistance of FBI agents. Puga is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and attempted murder. He is currently being held at the Doña Ana County Detention Center on a $1 million cash bond.
According to court documents filed by sheriff’s detectives, Vanegas-Quinonez and Puga confronted an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent on Friday, June 9, as the agent was reportedly helping his mother at her tamale stand near the intersection of Stan Roberts and McCombs in northeast El Paso.
The agent reportedly left in his vehicle with Vanegas-Quinonez and Puga.
At approximately 11:40 p.m. that same night, a sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to Paradise Lane, just off Shalem Colony Trail west of Las Cruces. Upon his arrival, the deputy reported finding a 30-year-old male subject who appeared to be suffering from multiple lacerations to his head and arms.
The male subject was later identified as the off-duty agent who reportedly left with Vanegas-Quinonez and Puga from northeast El Paso. The victim said the two men were armed with a gun and a machete. Detectives say the victim was struck repeatedly with the machete.
The gun was later discovered to be a pellet gun.
Sheriff’s detectives began to piece together details of the attack with an earlier call for service, one that happened just before 9 p.m. on the same night in the 100 block of Amparo Road in Chaparral.
Deputies responded to that location on what was initially believed to be an unrelated domestic dispute. When they arrived, it was learned that Vanegas-Quinonez had been at the house, demanding to see his ex-girlfriend. The woman’s sister told deputies Vanegas-Quinonez threatened her with what appeared to be a handgun. The sister described the vehicle Vanegas-Quinonez was in as an older-model red Nissan – the same vehicle that sheriff’s deputies located on the side of McCombs Road, just south of the New Mexico/Texas state line.
The vehicle matched the description provided by the victim on Amparo Road. Physical descriptions of the two suspects also matched between the victim on Amparo Road, the agent and his mother.
The victim remains in critical condition at UMC.
The incident is still an open investigation, in cooperation with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, and the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Information from Dona Ana County