Southwest States Violent Crime

Dimmit County Sheriff’s Deputy Candelario Ortiz Killed by Gun Smugglers

Dimmit County Sheriff's Deputy Candelario Ortiz
Dimmit County Sheriff's Deputy Candelario Ortiz

Dimmit County Sheriff’s Deputy Candelario Ortiz Killed by Gun Smugglers

Dimmit County Sheriff’s Office, Texas End of Watch: September 12, 1913

Deputy Candelario Ortiz was shot and killed after he and another deputy were abducted by a weapons-smuggling group from Mexico. He and three officers went to investigate a claim that the group of men were smuggling guns into the county. A scout group intercepted the two deputies and took them back to their camp and tied them up.

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Dimmit County Sheriff's Deputy Candelario Ortiz, Sheriff Buck, Posse and Prisoners

Upper left: Discovering the body of Deputy Sheriff Candelario Ortiz.
Upper right: The posse on the trail.
Lower left: Citizens of Carizzo Springs, Texas, turn out to see the arrested men brought in wagons to the town jail.
Lower right: At the prison in San Antonio, from left: Lino Mendoza, Leandro Vázquez, Bernardino Mendoza, Miguiel Martínez, and two lawmen
(Images thanks to Josef Lindner, Academy Film Archive.)

The sheriff and a city marshal were then fired upon as they approached. When the group retreated they tied the two deputies’ hands behind their backs and packed them with guns and ammunition. After walking several miles Deputy Ortiz was unable to climb a hill loaded with the equipment and the suspects shot and killed him.

The group was captured a few days later near the Rio Grande River after a shootout with Texas Rangers and members of the U.S. Army. Two were killed and 16 others were taken into custody. 14 were charged in connection with Deputy Ortiz’s murder. 13 were convicted of murder. Four were sentenced to life and the others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 25 years. Of the four sentenced to life escaped a year later from the Texas Penitentiary and was never recaptured. Two others were pardoned by Governor Miriam A. Ferguson on August 21, 1926. One who was sentenced to 15 years was killed in prison on August 20, 1916.

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