Arrest Warrant Issued Following Threat to Valley Reporter

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RIO GRANDE CITY – An arrest warrant is now active against the author of a threat from across the border directed at a Rio Grande Valley journalist. 

The owner and reporter for El Tejano, a weekly paper in Starr County, received the threat shortly after posting about the result of a grand jury indictment.

Dina Garcia-Peña, El Tejano owner/reporter, says these stories are typical news content.

"When there’s a grand jury, we follow the results of grand juries. And one of the grand juries they indicted an individual," she said.

On Aug. 1, El Tejano reported on the indictment for Lazaro Orlando Banda Treviño who is accused of indecency with a child.

The information was shared on their social media platforms.

Knowing his name and criminal history was divulged, Banda Treviño did not like the attention his case received.

He expressed that over private messaging.

Law enforcement liaison for the Starr County Attorney's Office Brenda Lee says, "The individual who was indicted, Lazaro Orlando Banda Treviño, he’s upset about it, because it’s a local newspaper. It’s a small town and everybody knows everybody."

Lee confirmed the threat related over messaging.

It was written in Spanish but roughly, and partly translates to, " Be informed before moving your sucker, because soon you will wake up like this. The world is small and I am everywhere."

According to the probable cause affidavit and evidence turned over, a picture showing a severed head and dismembered body was attached to the message.

It's a scene most common in Mexico where Banda Treviño is suspected to be currently residing. 

Garcia-Peña has received threats before, but she says this was different.

“We’ve covered so much more that it just didn’t seem to really fit what was being charged," she says.

The surprise was followed by caution.

She made record of the threat by going to the special crimes unit.

She trusts their advice, she says.

“They can either tell me, ‘yes this is a credible threat,’ or ‘this is probably not a big deal but let’s document.’ And so, documentation is very, very important.”

An investigation led them to Banda Treviño.

Lee says law enforcement will not hesitate to take action. "We will not tolerate any news media or any news media outlet being threatened for doing their job."

There's now an active warrant for his arrest on this charge, in addition to the indictment he is already facing. 

As for Garcia-Peña, she says she'll continue reporting.


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