Dozens of animals said to belong to murder suspect Juan David Villegas-Hernandez, whose extradition to the U.S. has reportedly been complicated by his nationality, have been impounded by the New Mexico Livestock Board for alleged abandonment and non-care.
A June 29 hearing at 8:30 a.m. is scheduled on the matter in Chaves County magistrate court in Roswell.
The Livestock Board is seeking permission from the court to allow the sale of the animals within 10 days of a judge’s order, requesting that Villegas-Hernandez and his representatives be barred from making a bid.
The Livestock Board is also asking that the proceeds from any sale be used to offset the costs of impoundment and care. It recommends that any excess proceeds be given to Villegas-Hernandez or any costs not covered by the sales be paid by Villegas-Hernandez. The Livestock Board also requests that a separate hearing be held within 30 days to determine if the livestock was cruelly treated.
Villegas-Hernandez, 34, of Roswell, is accused of killing his wife and four young daughters in the family home in Roswell on June 11. He was arrested in Mexico shortly afterwards. A representative of the Fifth District Attorney’s Office said on Monday that he is still in custody in Mexico.
According to the magistrate court filing of June 15, police told New Mexico Livestock Board inspectors that Villegas-Hernandez was in custody in Arispe, Sonora, Mexico, and could remain there for months before extradition.
An affidavit filed by Livestock Board Area One Supervisor Darron Shawn Davis indicates that at least 39 animals were seized at property allegedly owned by Villegas-Hernandez on West Chickasaw Road, a property described as approximately 50 acres.
Davis said in his statement that a neighbor alerted authorities to the fact that the animals belonged to the suspect and might not be cared for in his absence. Davis said in his statement that a relative of the victims’ family was seen caring for the animals on June 14, but the relative said that he could not take care of them on a long-term basis.
The animals impounded, according to the court filing, include five cows, two bulls, three calves, one steer, two rams, four horses, 20 chickens, two ducks and two dogs and an unspecified number of puppies under 1 years old. The filing describes one of the cows as allegedly in “very weak” condition.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said recently that Villegas-Hernandez was in the custody of INTERPOL in Hermosillo, and would be transferred to Mexico City pending extradition. INTERPOL is the world’s largest police organization with 190 member countries.
Roswell police said Villegas-Hernandez fled to Mexico shortly after allegedly killing his wife and four daughters.
Roswell Police Chief Phil Smith said at a City Council Public Safety Committee meeting Monday that the extradition of Villegas-Hernandez has been complicated by his nationality.
“At first, they were all gung-ho because they thought it was a U.S. citizen,” Smith said of Mexican government authorities. “It became complicated when they found out he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.
“And then they became a little, I wouldn’t say less cooperative, I’m going to say that the extradition has been complicated.”
Villegas-Hernandez is a citizen of Mexico who lived in the United States under a work visa, Smith said.
“He was a Mexican citizen with some sort of visa,” Smith said. “We’re not quite clear on that, on which one it was, but we know he had a visa, a right to work.”
Smith had no estimation how long the extradition of Villegas-Hernandez would take. He said extraditions from Mexico to the U.S. can take one to five years.
“There’s no consistency on extradition from Mexico,” he said. “We play on the field that we’re in.”
Smith said the June 11 quintuple killing in the 2300 block of Davis Avenue has been a challenging investigation for officers.
“That was a difficult and unique situation for myself and the agency,” Smith told the Public Safety Committee.
Staff writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, email@example.com. Senior writer Jeff Tucker contributed to this report.