Border Agent Discussed ‘Frying’ Migrants Before Hitting One With His Truck, Feds Charge

Central American asylum seekers wait as U.S. Border Patrol agents take them into custody on June 12, 2018, near McAllen, Texas.
Photo: Getty

A U.S. Border Patrol agent accused of deliberately hitting a Guatemalan migrant with his truck and then lying about it conveyed numerous racial slurs and derogatory statements about Central American and Guatemalan migrants in a series of texts sent weeks before the incident, federal prosecutors charge.

According to the Washington Post:

In the dozens of texts introduced in an April 4 filing, [U.S. Border Patrol Agent Matthew] Bowen uses racial slurs and insults like “s—-bags” to refer to migrants.

In one text exchange, an unnamed agent asked Bowen, “Did you gas hiscorpse (sic) or just use regular peanut oil while tazing?? For a frying effect.” Bowen responded: “Guats are best made crispy, with olive oil from their native pais,” using the Spanish word for “country” that doubles as an insult toward Guatemalans, the Daily Star reported. In another text, he refers to “mindless murdering savages.”

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Attorneys for Bowen want the judge in his case to suppress the texts, with lawyer Sean Chapman describing Bowen’s comments as hardly extraordinary, as the Post reports:

Rather, his sentiments are “commonplace throughout the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector,” Chapman wrote [in response to the government’s filing], adding that such messages are “part of the agency’s culture.”

Chapman later clarified to the Post that what was “commonplace” was use of the derogatory term “tonk,” which, as the Post explained,

some agents claim is an innocent acronym, the Arizona Republic reported, and others say is a slur derived from the sound of hitting an immigrant on the head with a flashlight.

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And that’s supposed to be better?

In any case, according to Reuters, prosecutors argue that the texts show Bowen’s “state of mind” when they charge that in December 2017, Bowen hit a Guatemalan migrant named Antolin Lopez Aguilar with his truck as agents tried to arrest him on suspicion he jumped the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Nogales, Ariz.

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Aguilar survived, but authorities say Bowen almost ran him over with the truck. They say Bowen later lied about what happened in official reports.

A court has yet to decide on whether the texts will be admissible. Bowen was indicted in May of last year and his trial is set to start Aug. 13, Reuters reports.

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