MISSION — A former Border Patrol agent was charged Monday with sexually assaulting two young girls over a period of five years.
According to Mission police, officers arrested Joe Nuñez, 51, of La Feria, on Friday after two female relatives accused him of repeated abuse during an interview with investigators at the Hidalgo County Child Advocacy Center in Edinburg.
The former agent has cooperated with the investigation and admitted to some of the allegations, Mission police spokesman Sgt. Martin Garza said. Garza would not describe to which parts of the accusations Nuñez objected.
"These girls had a substantial relationship with him between the ages of about 9 and 15," Garza said. "But they came to realize as they grew up that now was the time to come forward."
Border Patrol spokesman Oscar Saldaña confirmed that Nuñez formerly worked as an agent in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. But citing the privacy of personnel records, he would not say how long Nuñez had worked for the agency, or when and under what circumstances he had left his job.
According to the probable cause affidavit in the case filed against Nuñez, the abuse occurred in a Mission apartment on Glasscock Road between December 2001 and Jan. 31, 2006.
The younger of the two girls, now 14, told investigators that on several occasions Nuñez coaxed her into her mother’s bedroom, where he undressed her and assaulted, the affidavit said. The last time the abuse occurred she was 13 years old, she told police.
After each encounter, Nuñez allegedly dressed the girl, asked her how she felt and then left as if nothing had happened, the affidavit said.
The older girl, now 15, accused Nuñez of entering her room in 2000, lying on top of her, and molesting her.
After both girls came forward to report the abuse, Nuñez’s wife confronted him with the allegations, the document said.
She later told investigators that he admitted to groping the younger child, but said it had only happened once. He offered to undergo counseling, the affidavit states.
On Jan. 29, a Child Protective Services investigator contacted Mission police about the allegations and a municipal court judge issued a warrant for his arrest on Friday, Garza said.
During Nuñez’s court appearance Monday, he told Judge Jonathan Wehrmeister that he is currently unemployed and had never been arrested before.
Wehrmeister set his bond at $500,000 and ordered that he have no contact with either victim should he post bail. If convicted on both charges, Nuñez could face life in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.
This is the second time in the last five months that a current or former Border Patrol agent has been accused of sexually assaulting a minor. In October, police arrested Oscar Ramirez, a 40-year-old agent in the Del Rio sector, after an Edinburg girl accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct before he was an agent. His case has not yet gone to trial.
Jeremy Roebuck covers law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4437.