Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office arrests two men on capital murder charges

The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office arrested Gabino Salinas, 32, of Edinburg (left) and Benjamin Chavez Sanchez, 21, (right) last week. (Photo courtesy of the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office)

The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office arrested two men on capital murder charges last week, but basic details about the arrests remain unknown because the county is attempting to keep the charging documents secret — at least temporarily.

Gabino Salinas, 32, of Edinburg and 21-year-old Benjamin Chavez Sanchez were booked at the Hidalgo County jail on Friday morning.

Salinas is charged with capital murder of multiple persons, according to Sheriff's Office records. Sanchez is charged with capital murder.

Both Salinas and Sanchez may be gang members, according to Sheriff's Office booking records. Sanchez has a tattoo of a palm tree, which is popular among members of the Vallucos prison gang.

Sheriff's Office Division Chief Joel Rivera said releasing the documents could potentially compromise the investigation. As a result, Hidalgo County Justice of the Peace Jaime "Jerry" Muñoz said the Sheriff's Office asked him not to release the arrest warrants and affidavits.

"I'm sure everybody knows what the Code of Criminal Procedure says and what it mandates, but people's lives are at stake here," Muñoz said, adding later: "We're not doing it to protect anybody but the potential victims and witnesses whose lives are in danger."

Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, arrest warrants and supporting affidavits become public after the warrant is executed. The documents must be made available to the public upon request.

Both Rivera and Muñoz said they would make the documents public as soon as possible. It's unclear when, exactly, that will be.

Magistrate courts — including Muñoz's court, which is among the most professional and responsive in Hidalgo County — routinely release arrest warrants and affidavits. It's extremely unusual for a court to withhold an arrest warrant or affidavit.

"It's outrageous because that's clearly a public record," said former Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra. "They have to be disclosed immediately."

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