November 22, 2009 (Campo) – Christopher Daniel Castro-Alvarez, 17, pled guilty in federal court Friday to charges of murdering Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas during a robbery. In court, he testified that he and others lured Rosas from his vehicle to rob him. But Britt Craig, who heard the fatal shots and spoke with Rosas shortly before the Agent was killed, told East County Magazine that he does not believe that the story is plausible.
“How many people go out of their way to find an armed, uniformed law enforcement officer to rob?” he asked. “The alibi story that it was an accident, that he only meant to rob a Border Patrol agent, is not logical. With all the people in the U.S. and Mexico that you could rob, you’re not going to go after an armed, uniformed law enforcement officer guaranteed to be in good shape and under 56 years of age.”
Craig, head of the Campo Minutemen, was at his group’s base camp and says he spoke with Rosas 10 to 15 minutes before the murder occurred on July 23. “He was parked near my campsite,” Craig said, adding that Rosas told him he had been tracking four people from west to east who were trying to cross the border.
According to official accounts, Castro-Alvarez and Rosas struggled over the agent’s gun during the robbery and the agent was shot multiple times. At least one other assailant was reportedly involved but has not been charged. An FBI investigation continues. A Mexican national, Castro-Alvarez gave himself up to U.S. authorities in August but the arrest was kept secret as the FBI attempted to close in on accomplices.
Ezekiel E. Cortez, attorney for Castro-Alvarez, told reporters outside the courthouse that his client is deeply remorseful. “At no time did he have any intention to harm anyone, specifically a law enforcement officer.” Castro-Alvarez will face sentencing on Feb. 19 and could face up to a lifetime sentence in prison.
But Craig has another theory. “I believe that the people came across the border with the intention of killing a Border Patrol Agent, not necessarily this particular one,” he said. “It's spooky. They weren't smuggling people. They weren't smuggling drugs. One thing I am sure of from many, many discussions with Border Patrol personnel is that Agent Rosas was shot once in the neck and three times in the head while he was laying on the ground dying…He was executed. I heard the shots. It was four spaced shots, which could mean a struggle, then four fast shots.” He said Border Patrol later confirmed that eight shots were fired. “There was only one gun. They were struggling for his gun,” he added.
Craig suggested that the killing may have been retribution for a recent chase in which suspected smugglers escaped back into Mexico—and meant as a warning to frighten other Border Patrol Agents out of enforcing the laws. “They do the same thing in Mexico,” he noted. “They kill Mexican police and cut off their heads to frighten the police into running away.”
If the killer or killers of Agent Rosas believed that killing a Border Patrol Agent would result in a relaxation of border enforcement, Craig concluded, “ I believe they blundered. Since this happened, they (Border Patrol) have filled up holes in the wall and made it a lot more difficult to come across the border.”