Ourview: Laredo serial killer highlights abuse of power in Border Patrol


Courtesy of Creative Commons

Ortiz abused his power as a Border Control agent.

Sierra Rozen and Lauren Sanchez

Texas is a state with a slew of problems; gentrification, lack of gun control, Ted Cruz? What a mess.

Recently added to the list is a serial killer by the name of Juan David Ortiz. Luckily he was arrested by local police on Friday at 2:30 in the morning, ending his reign of terror. One last and imperative detail about this case? Ortiz was a supervisory Border Patrol agent.

Since the separation and incarceration of immigrant families at the border, people have been calling for an end to ICE and the Border Patrol. After looking at cases like Ortiz’s, we can deduce that giving people a certain level of power over others can be insanely dangerous for anyone around them.

The only reason Ortiz was even caught was because the fifth person he kidnapped managed to escape before he could shoot her. If the woman in question hadn’t been able to get away, Ortiz would still be on the loose, terrorizing defenseless women. Some might say that this is just another example of a tragic murder case. However, this is clearly a case of a higher up taking advantage of their power.

Even more sickening is the fact that Ortiz himself said that he wanted to “eradicate all the prostitutes.” Clearly, he had some sort of superiority complex that caused him to believe that he needed to kidnap and murder multiple sex workers.

It’s not just ICE and the Border Patrol though; this also applies to the police and to the military. We allow dangerous people to have power over the general populous then get surprised when they abuse it.

The Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal is a perfect example of this misuse of power. The Abu Ghraib prison was a detention center controlled by the U.S. Army in use from 2003 to 2006. After the release of graphic images depicting the torture and mistreatment of the detainees, an investigation was launched in 2003. The result? 11 U.S. soldiers were convicted of crimes in relation to this scandal.

So what needs to happen in order to prevent these abuses of power?

First of all, adequate background checks need to take place for those applying into organizations such as these. These need to go more in depth than criminal records. Any social media postings that include threats or violent ideologies aimed towards minorities need to be taken into consideration. If your police trainee makes a Facebook post about wanting to shoot up a black church, maybe you should consider the danger of giving him a gun and a badge.

We also need to conduct psych evaluations on applicants. Of course, it’s unreasonable to blame racist fueled killings solely on mental illnesses, but doing a mental health check would certainly not hurt anyone in the process. In fact, it would actually allow someone to seek help before they can hurt anybody.

If we want people like Ortiz to stop abusing their power, we need to make sure they don’t get put on these pedestals in the first place. These positions do warrant respect, but only if the actions of those occupying them are actually respectable. When the people who are supposed to be “protecting our country” are too busy murdering innocent civilians, maybe we should consider abolishing those positions all together.