Sept. 15 (UPI) -- A border agent was arrested early Saturday in South Texas by officials searching for a serial killer in the Laredo area.
Juan David Ortiz, a 10-year veteran of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, ran from state troopers and was hiding in a hotel parking lot when arrested. He is suspected of killing four women and kidnapping a fifth woman who alerted authorities after she escaped.
"We have probable cause to believe that he is responsible for this series of murders, which I would qualify as a serial murderer," said Isidro Alaniz, Webb County district attorney.
The Texas Rangers, along with the Webb County Sheriff's office, launched an investigation after Melissa Ramirez, 29, a mother of two, was found slain Sept. 4. On Thursday, Claudine Anne Luera, 42, was found in an area close to where Ramirez's body was discovered. She was taken to a local hospital where she later died.
The third body was found Friday in rural northwest Webb County and a fourth was found Saturday north of Laredo. Their identities have not been released. Police say all four were prostitutes.
"The county, the city can rest assured we have the serial killer in custody," said Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar, who said he believes Ortiz acted alone.
The Laredo Police Department issued a statement about the arrest to calm fear in the community.
"We want to reassure the citizens of Laredo that the community and your families are safe. ... We value the release of timely information and we are making this notice public in order to remove any unnecessary fear in the community," the statement said.
In April, Anthony Burgos Aviles, a nine-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol, was charged with murder after authorities said he killed a woman and her infant child and dumped their bodies, which were found near the banks of the Rio Grande River in Laredo.