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Suspect in 1997 Rio Hondo murder arrested

Suspect in 1997 Rio Hondo murder arrested
1 year 2 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, May 03 2023 May 3, 2023 May 03, 2023 9:08 PM May 03, 2023 in News - Local

A 59-year-old fugitive wanted in connection with a 1997 murder in Rio Hondo was arrested on Monday after attempting to enter the country illegally.

Benito Barrera Martinez was located by Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande City area as he attempted to enter the country illegally, according to a news release from the Cameron County sheriff’s Office.

Martinez was originally charged for the June 1997 murder of Martin Villarreal, 29. Villarreal’s body was found in a rural area in Rio Hondo, and an investigation revealed Martinez participated in the murder, the sheriff’s office stated.

The murder was believed to be drug related, according to the news release.

Martinez was originally indicted and incarcerated for Villarreal’s murder in 2006, but was released when the case was dismissed.

New evidence prompted a new case in 2014 and an arrest warrant was issued for Martinez, but he could not be located.

“Martinez absconded apprehension in 2014 and had fled to Mexico,” the sheriff’s office stated.

Martinez is in custody pending his arraignment.  

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