Authorities make two arrests in brutal beating of Border Patrol agent

Men allegedly attacked agent with machete

Authorities make two arrests in brutal beating of Border Patrol agent

EL PASO - Two men have been arrested in connection with last week's brutal attack of an off-duty Border Patrol agent. 

The agent, who is identified in court documents as Lorenzo Hernandez, remains in critical condition at University Medical Center He told investigators he was struck several times with a machete.

Sergio Ivan Venegas-Quinonez, 33, and Fernando Puga, 31, have both been charged in the case. Venegas-Quinonez is currently in custody at the El Paso County Jail awaiting extradition to Doña Ana County. He was arrested at a construction site on El Paso's east side. He's charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and aggravated assault.

Puga, of Las Cruces, was taken into custody by Doña Ana County Sheriff's detectives with the assistance of FBI agents. Puga was arrested across the street from The Community of Hope Center where he was a client.

The executive director of the shelter, Nichole Martinez suggests Puga is dealing with a mental illness.

"Typically, if, if Fernando goes off his meds, he, you know, has episodes...breakdowns and he gets back on his medication pretty quickly. I know that he has had other run-ins with the law, so I know that he has had a criminal history. I just did not foresee anything so violent," Martinez told ABC-7.

Puga is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and attempted murder. He is being held at the Doña Ana County Detention Center with bond set at $1 million.

On the night of June 9, investigators said the two men confronted the Hernandez, who was reportedly helping his mother at her tamales stand near the intersection of Stan Roberts Avenue and McCombs Street in Northeast El Paso.

According to court documents obtained by the ABC-7 I-Team, Hernandez said he didn't know the men, but after they bought and ate tamales, they allegedly told him if he "wanted to save his family and himself to get in the fucken (sic) car."

Hernandez told his mother he was going to give the men a ride to gas station.

In the car, documents state, Hernandez said he noticed one of the men pull out a gun and the other pull out a machete. Puga allegedly told Hernandez he would do whatever they wanted him to do, documents state.

Once in New Mexico, in and area north of Las Cruces, they got out of the car and Hernandez reportedly began fighting with Vanegas-Quinonez, who was allegedly armed with a gun. Puga then allegedly began striking the Hernandez with a machete.

Court documents state Vanegas-Quinonez told investigators that Puga repeatedly hacked away at the agent, "as if he was extremely angry."

Vanegas-Quinonez said he, too, felt threatened and "played the part" by pushing the agent around. Vanegas-Quinonez told investigators he was afraid Puga would hack him as well.

Hernandez told investigators he was able to fight the men and run away. Later that night, the agent was found with multiple lacerations to his head and arms west of Las Cruces.

Documents state Hernandez suffered partial amputation to two fingers on his right hand; a possible frontal hemorrhage; and several arm and hand fractures.

Earlier that evening, Doña Ana County Sheriff's Deputies investigated a domestic dispute in Chaparral, the sheriff's office said. There they learned that Vanegas-Quinonez allegedly threatened his girlfriend with what appeared to be a gun. Vanegas-Quinonez left in a vehicle that matched the description of a car later found abandoned in Northeast El Paso. Investigators said the description of Puga and Vanegas-Quinonez they got from the suspect's girlfriend matched the description of the men from Hernandez and his mother.

Investigators later determined it was a pellet gun.

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