Jan. 24, 2008,
Slain Border Patrol agent honored at memorial service in Yuma
© 2008 The Associated Press
YUMA, Ariz. — A U.S. Border Patrol agent killed over the weekend when he was run over by a suspected drug smuggler was honored at a memorial service Thursday.
Law enforcement officers from across the Southwest filled the Yuma Civic Center to remember Senior Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar. The 32-year-old agent was killed Saturday while trying to place spike strips in front of a Hummer fleeing other agents in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in southeastern California, about 20 miles west of Yuma.
A funeral procession of law enforcement vehicles served as an honor guard for Aguilar's body, leading it from Immaculate Conception Church to the civic center.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner W. Ralph Basham and Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar attended the service.
Aguilar was a six-year veteran of the Border Patrol. He is survived by his wife and a young son and daughter. His body will be taken back to his hometown of El Paso, Texas, for burial Monday.
A man suspected of being the Hummer's driver was arrested Tuesday and is being held by Mexican authorities.
Authorities believe Jesus Navarro Montes left Mexicali in Baja California in a Hummer carrying drugs on Saturday and headed across the dunes into the U.S., according to Mexico's federal Attorney General's office and Public Safety Department.
The Hummer and a pickup were spotted on Interstate 8 and Border Patrol agents began pursing them. Both vehicles turned off the highway toward Mexico, and that's when Aguilar tried to stop them with the spike strips, which are design to flatten tires and disable fleeing vehicles.
After the agent was struck, Navarro, 22, continued across the border into Mexico and drove to Mexicali, where he gave the Hummer to accomplices for safekeeping, according to an Attorney General's office spokesman.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday that he was pleased with Mexico's quick response in finding a suspect in Aguilar's death.
Chertoff said he thanked Mexican Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mourino for his country's action in locating and apprehending the suspect.
"We will continue to work with Mexican authorities to investigate this heinous act, and pursue swift justice," Chertoff said.