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Murder of Texas Prison Inmate Sparks Retaliation Concerns

Six inmates were rebooked on murder charge
Six inmates were rebooked on murder charges | Images by El Paso County Jail Annex

The murder of an inmate allegedly committed by fellow detainees has an El Paso jail on edge.

Jesus Torres, 57, was found dead inside his cell at the El Paso County Jail Annex on November 27. His death was ruled a homicide, and the ensuing investigation conducted by detectives from the El Paso Sheriff’s Office Major Crime Unit and the Texas Rangers identified six other inmates residing in the victim’s cell block as the suspected perpetrators.

Manuel Alejandro Vargas, 31; George Lopez, 23; Jesus Adrian Rocha, 38; Jovani Dionicio Ramos, 29; and Christian Carillo, 25, were all rebooked on murder charges. They had originally been arrested on different charges, including human smuggling, aggravated assault, and manufacturing methamphetamine. Meanwhile, the sixth suspect, 18-year-old Juan Alberto Ortiz, was charged with capital murder. He was already awaiting trial for allegedly fatally shooting his mother last year.

The victim, Torres, had been incarcerated in early June after allegedly violating his parole on a human smuggling case and being found in possession of drugs.

The motive behind Torres’ killing has not been disclosed by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. However, a report from KTSM 9 News suggested that on Sunday evening, one of the suspects received a message that had been slipped under a door. Video footage reportedly shows four of the suspects later violently assaulting Torres while two others acted as lookouts.

Jailers have taken steps to ensure that the violence doesn’t spill over into the rest of the population. Several inmates have been placed under lockdown in individual cells to thwart any acts of retaliation.

Crimes like those the convicts in El Paso have been accused and/or convicted of are also seen in Dallas, where the murder rate continues to climb as the police department continues to grapple with an ongoing officer shortage. Although a City analysis previously recommended a force of at least 4,000 to maintain public safety, the Dallas Police Department currently employs fewer than 3,200 officers.

Meanwhile, as of November 28, there had been 221 murders and non-negligent homicides logged citywide, according to the City’s crime analytics dashboard. This represents a 10.5% increase year over year.

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