Four accused of murder in decapitation death of Honduran man

Aaron Nelsen, Rio Grande Valley Bureau June 25, 2015Updated: June 25, 2015 6:42 p.m. 1of42Fernando Luna RodriguezCourtesy…

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Authorities in Cameron County have charged four men in connection with the murder of a Honduran national, whose decapitated and mutilated body was found in March, floating in the bay off of South Padre Island.

Cameron County sheriff’s deputies arrested the four men Wednesday at the Veteran’s Tire Shop in Edinburg, where they had worked with the victim, Franklin Rodriguez Palacios Paz, 30. Edinburg police assisted with the arrests, Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said.

“All of the suspects are charged with murder, being engaged in organized criminal activity, and tampering with evidence,” Lucio said.

All four were taken in for questioning, then arraigned Thursday morning. Three of the men are Mexican nationals, including Aaron Rodriguez Medellin, 22, Nestor Manuel Leal, 18, and Fernando Luna Rodriguez, 35, while the fourth, Eduardo Luna Rodriguez, 24, is a U.S. citizen, according to the Cameron County Sheriff’s Office.

Palacios had been reported missing several days before his headless body was discovered by fishermen in Laguna Madre. His chest appeared to have been mutilated with a sharp object, reminiscent of organized crime violence in Mexico, officials said at the time, however, Lucio declined to comment on possible connections to Mexican cartels.

Palacios had a criminal history, including drug- and immigration-related arrests. Previously, he had been detained by U.S. Border Patrol for being in the country illegally, and according to authorities, Palacios’ common-law wife said he was unlawfully in the country at time of his death. His body was identified by his fingerprints in the federal computer system.

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