Police believe undocumented immigrant's crime spree was random

Illegal immigration pattern not uncommon

DALLAS -- In a largely Spanish-speaking neighborhood in southern Dallas, everybody knew Juan Navarro Rios as “flaco.”

That’s Spanish for "skinny."

Neighbors say Rios lived in the tiny shed in the back yard of his uncle's home on Texas Drive. They saw him cut the grass Saturday.

They say nothing seemed out of the ordinary when they saw him in the front yard Sunday evening,  just hours before police say he went on a murderous crime spree that ended with his capture Tuesday evening at his sister’s apartment in Georgetown.

Authorities say he did not know either man that he was accused of killing. They believe the rampage was completely random and likely fueled by drugs.

Rios, an undocumented immigrant, had so many aliases -- at least eight by last count -- that police aren't even sure of his real name.

“It's not uncommon for people to have several names, vary their birthdate by a day in the hopes that you'll never match their records,” said immigration attorney Elizabeth Alvarez Bingham.

Records also revealed that he had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border at least 35 times, using a passport with a fake name.

Rios had been deported back to Mexico three times, immigration officials say.

He was first deported in June 1996 for criminal convictions. In October 2009, he tried to enter the U.S. by falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen at the border crossing in Hidalgo. He was deported the same day.

But he kept coming back.

In 2011, he was arrested in Austin and taken into immigration custody. This time, he was prosecuted under a federal statute makes it illegal to re-enter the country after being deported. He was sentenced to eight months in a federal prison.

“Eight months confinement for this third re-entry is not enough jail time, but you also have to understand the person who probably got that time that was probably the best they could get,” Bingham said.

He was deported again in March 2014, after finishing his sentence. But Williamson County records indicate he was back in the country by August 2015, when he allegedly fled from police and dumped a backpack containing ammunition and cocaine. An arrest warrant was issued in January.

Bingham, a Dallas County Republican Party official, says the system needs a complete overhaul.

“We could build a wall,” Bingham said. “We could build 12 walls -- we don't have enough people. We don't have enough border-control people.”

She says that overhaul needs to include more beds, more border patrol agents, and more courts.

Texas, a state overwhelmed by immigration cases, only has five immigration courts.

“I doubt that there was one specific thing that could have prevented or changed this,” Bingham said, “but if the system was operating in a manner that allowed border patrol to do their job, this would happen far less often.”

According to police, the rampage started Sunday night when Rios shot Ruben Moreno, 33, to death in his Humvee on the shoulder of Spur 408 in southern Dallas. A short time later, authorities believe he opened fire on at least two other vehicles and then carjacked and killed Welton Betts at a Texaco in Cedar Hill.

Cedar Hill police say he broke into a home, took the keys to a Lexus, and drove it to Georgetown, Texas, where it was found abandoned. He is also believed to have kidnapped a man at gunpoint Monday morning and then trying to force him to withdraw money from an ATM.

Rios set fire to his sister’s apartment in Georgetown, broke through a wall into a neighbor’s apartment, and tried to flee before being captured. He had a gun nearby, police said.

Rios is currently being held in the Dallas County jail.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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