By Steve Neavling
An off-duty Border Patrol agent was kidnapped and brutally beaten by two strangers in Northeast El Paso after he tried to keep them away from his family.
Agent Lorenzo Hernandez, who is assigned to the agency’s Deming area, was helping his mother at her food truck when two suspicious men, one of whom had gun, asked Hernandez for a ride on June 9, saying their car had broken down, according to FBI affidavits obtained by the El Paso Times.
Concerned the men, later identified as Sergio Ivan Quiñonez-Venegas and Fernando A. Puga, would harm his mother and minor brother and nephew, Hernandez offered the strangers a ride in his 2014 Ford Focus.
“When one of the subjects paid for some tamales purchased from BP Agent Hernandez’s mother, Hernandez noticed a large amount of cash in the subject’s wallet,” according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Jesus Nieto of El Paso. “BP Agent Hernandez also observed that one of the subjects had a handgun in the waistband of his pants. BP Agent Hernandez stated that he felt compelled to give the subjects a ride to a nearby gas station because he had become concerned for the safety of his mother and his minor brother and nephew who were present at the food truck.”
One of the suspects stuck a gun into Hernandez’s ribs and said, “This is a kidnapping.”
During a 50-mile drive to an area outside of Las Cruces, the suspects threatened to kill him. When the car stopped, Hernandez confronted the men outside of his car.
“Although BP Agent Hernandez reported he was able to gain control of the handgun in a struggle, it was of poor quality and he was unable to fire it at the subjects,” according to the affidavit. “As a result, BP Agent Hernandez threw the handgun away into the field/desert area adjacent to the dirt road. During a physical struggle and foot chase, BP Agent Hernandez was assaulted and struck/stabbed multiple times with a machete by Puga.”
Hernandez was taken to the hospital with fractures to his skull and arms and severe stab wounds to his body and fingers.
Quiñonez-Venegas was arrested June 13 and told FBI agents that he was forced to participate in the kidnapping by Puga. Two days later, the FBI and a local sheriff’s office arrested Puga, who claimed he was kidnapped by Quiñonez-Venegas.
Both men face federal kidnapping charges.