Advocates Call for Prosecution of Clandestine Border Patrol Investigation Unit

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Immigrant rights advocates have called on San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan to file charges against Border Patrol agents involved in the 2010 beating death of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas based on evidence that Critical Incident Investigative Teams (CIIT) within U.S. Border Patrol sectors along the U.S.-Mexico border illegally investigate incidents of agent-involved use of force and work to mitigate agents’ culpability by withholding, destroying or tampering with evidence, reports the Courthouse News Service. The units allegedly have no congressional authority to engage in such investigations.

Because Stephan has the authority to ensure the integrity of local law enforcement investigations, Maria Puga, Rojas’s wife, can file criminal charges against CIIT agents for obstructing justice. Her attorneys suggested felony charges should be filed for preparing false evidence, offering false evidence, destroying or concealing evidence and tampering with witnesses. If Stephan files charges, she could set precedent for other prosecutions across the borderlands where advocates Thursday said 100 people have been killed by Border Patrol agents without any charges filed. The units have existed since at least 1987, with the first CIIT unit established in San Diego.

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