On May 20, 1997, Esequiel Hernandez, Jr. (pictured left) was herding his family's
goats 100 yards from his home on the US-Mexican border in Redford, Texas as he did
Unknown to Esequiel or any of the other residents of Redford, a group of four Marines led by 22-year old Corporal Clemente Banuelos had been encamped just outside the small village along the Rio Grande River for three days. After watering his small flock of goats in the river, Esequiel started on his way back home when the Marines began stalking him from a distance of 200 yards.
The four camouflaged Marines were outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and weapons. Esequiel carried an antique .22 caliber rifle - a pre-World War I, single shot rifle to keep wild dogs and rattlesnakes away from his goats. The autopsy showed that Esequiel was facing away from the Marines when he was shot. He probably never knew the Marines were watching him from 200 yards away.
Thus it was that a 22 year-old United States Marine shot and killed an innocent 18 year-old boy tending his family's goats. This outrageous act was the inevitable consequence of a drug prohibition policy gone mad. Esequiel Hernandez was killed not by drugs but by military officers of the United States government.
|This is Corporal Banuelos, who led the Marine unit that patrolled the Redford area. He fired the shot that killed Esequiel on the orders of an unidentified commander who was not present at the scene. He and his fellow Marines, trained to kill the enemy, were placed in a situation which was inconsistent with the role of the military. Now he will have to live with the guilt of killing an innocent man for the rest of his life. He too is a victim of our present drug policy. Photo courtesy of The Big Bend Sentinel.|
|This is the Big Bend Region of the Texas-Mexican border. It is immense, with very few people. Obviously a difficult, if not impossible, area for successful drug interdiction. In fact, this region is not very active regarding drug smuggling. Most drugs are currently smuggled through major ports of entry. There are simply too many containers crossing the border for inspectors to search. The odds, whether at ports of entry or in regions like Big Bend, are with the smugglers. Photo courtesy of James H. Evans.|
|Redford is a small town of approximately 100 people. It is also a poor town. The town has a cheese co-operative and a goat herd. It borders on the Rio Grande and many of the families in Redford have families across the river. The culture is a combination of American and Mexican. There have been no reports of drugs being smuggled through Redford. No one can recall a seizure of illegal drugs in the town. Photo courtesy of James H. Evans.|
|The area where the goats were being herded was Esequiel's backyard. It is desert land, but there is a lot of brush, small bushes, hills and trees. The area looks like this photograph. In fact on the day of the shooting it looked very much like this. Hiding in the bushes is a Marine. Can you find him? When the Marines fired on Esequiel they were 200 yards away. It is hard to believe that Junior recognized the Marine from that distance, in fact, he probably had no idea a group of Marines were following him. Photo courtesy of James H. Evans.|
|This is the site where Esequiel was standing when he was shot. Visible in the background by the right-elbow of the man in the photo is the Hernandez family home. Photo courtesy of Steve Bunch.|
|This is a view of the building which Esequiel was standing near when he was shot. Notice the road curving off to the right and the small building slightly up the road. These landmarks are also visible in the next photo. In the low right-hand corner of this photo is the corner of the well which marks the spot where Esequiel was shot. Photo courtesy of Steve Bunch.|
|This is the view Esequiel was facing when he was shot. The black rectangle (visible in the enlarged photo) marks the cemetary where he is now buried. Photo courtesy of Steve Bunch.|
|This is a local church as seen from the site where Esequiel was shot. Notice the small building to the left of the church and the road in the foreground. Photo courtesy of Steve Bunch.|
|This is what the marines wear in order to camouflage themselves. It is known as a ghillie suit. This is the face of the Marines when they face US citizens on the border. Photo courtesy of James H. Evans.|
|This is the view from where the Marine stood when firing the fatal shot. The black arrow drawn on this photo points to a person standing in the same place where Esequiel was standing when shot. It is worth remembering that the marines were dressed in full-combat camouflage with high-powered assault rifles, in contrast to Esequiel's ordinary clothing and old .22 rifle. Photo courtesy of Steve Bunch.|
|Residents of Redford watch the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather as they report on the death of Esequiel. Photo courtesy of James H. Evans.|
|Esequiel Hernandez, Jr. on horseback. He is on the left. Photo courtesy of The Big Bend Sentinel.|
|After the shooting, the town held a meeting to discuss what to do. Pictured here is Esequiel's brother at the meeting. The meeting was attended by border rights groups organized by the American Friends Service Committee. Photo courtesy of James H. Evans.|
|The legal summit. A meeting was held in the Redford School house. DPFT Board Member and President of Common Sense for Drug Policy Kevin Zeese is on the left. Maria Jimenez, of the American Friends Service Committee is fourth from the left. Approximately 30 people from Redford attended the meeting. Also in attendance were Dan Abrahamson of the Lindesmith Center and Steve Bunch of the Drug Policy Forum of New Mexico who is a member of DPFT. The purpose of the summit was to discuss with town residents their legal options for seeking justice in the death of Junior and in demilitarizing their community. Photo courtesy of Steve Bunch.|
|This is the grave where 18 year old Esequiel Hernandez is buried. He was shot while herding goats by a member of the Joint Task Force 6 drug patrol. The small building on the horizon is the site where Esequiel was shot, ironically, while facing away from the marines and toward the cemetary where he is now buried. Photo courtesy of Steve Bunch.|
|The gravesite of Esequiel Hernandez, Jr. From this spot you can see where he was killed, where he was born and the church where he was laid out. Photo courtesy of James H. Evans.|
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