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Aug. 27, 2010

FORMER MEXICAN CUSTOMS OFFICIAL SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR INTERNATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

(LAREDO, Texas) – A former Mexican customs official has been sentenced to prison for committing international domestic violence against his wife, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Eduardo Mendoza Hernandez, 35, a former Mexican customs official was sentenced today by United States Senior District Judge George P. Kazen to 48 months for transporting his spouse from Laredo to Nuevo Laredo in Mexico where he shot her. Mendoza was charged federally with international domestic violence in April 2009 by criminal complaint. At that time, he was in state custody for assaulting his wife in January 2009. Mendoza had been arrested on the pending state warrant on March 3, 2009, at a Laredo port of entry as he attempted to enter United States from Mexico. He has since been convicted of the state charge and sentenced. In June 2009, Mendoza was transferred to federal custody where he has remained without bond.

Mendoza’s federal conviction is the result of an FBI investigation initiated in late February 2009 after the Laredo Police Department (LPD) advised the FBI about a woman who had been coerced into accompanying her husband from Laredo, Texas, to Nuevo Laredo where he shot her. 

FBI agents interviewed the victim and learned that on Feb. 19, 2009, Mendoza, a Mexican national, arrived unexpectedly at the Laredo residence of his wife located on the 3400 block of Pine Avenue. Although separated at this time, Mendoza and his wife had been married for approximately 10 years during which Mendoza had subjected his spouse to psychological and physical abuse. Mendoza coerced his former wife and two of their children out of her residence by threatening her and her family in Mexico if she refused to accompany him. The victim had a well-founded fear of her spouse as he had beaten her the month before in January 2009, leaving her with a broken nose. Moreover, because Mendoza was a law enforcement official in Mexico, she feared he would carry out his threats against her and her family.
 
Leaving the residence, Mendoza first drove to a school where he picked up their oldest child then drove his wife and children toward the International Port of Entry No. 2 in Laredo, Texas. Near the international bridge, Mendoza directed his wife to drive. Fearing for her children, the victim did as directed, driving across the bridge into Nuevo Laredo to Mendoza’s parents’ home where the children were dropped off. Directing his wife to yet another vehicle, Mendoza drove to the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo. During the drive, Mendoza and his wife argued about a reconciliation and the custody of the children until Mendoza pulled out a pistol and shot his wife in the abdomen. The victim begged for medical attention. Instead, Mendoza continued to drive while waiting for his brother to arrive to render aid. Meanwhile, he threatened to shoot the victim again and to kill himself.

The victim was eventually taken to a hospital in Nuevo Laredo where she underwent surgery for the gunshot wound. Days later, after having been discharged from the hospital and returned to the United States by relatives, the victim reported the incident to LPD. 

“I used to have a family, but now it’s a lot like a puzzle in pieces,” the victim said during today’s hearing. “I want to know why he did this to me.”

“I have not words, I just want to apologize to you [victim] and my children,” Mendoza said.

In handing down the sentence Judge Kazen told Mendoza, “What you did to this woman was horrible. This is horrendous conduct on your part - It’s physically horrible; it’s emotionally destructive.”

In addition to the prison term, Judge Kazen ordered Mendoza to pay restitution to his former wife and her compensators - Doctor’s Hospital and a domestic violence shelter - in the amount of $5,838.80. Upon his release from prison Mendoza faces deportation proceedings.

Assistant United States Attorney Diana Song prosecuted the case.

 

 

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