High court rejects appeal in ’97 kidnapping, murder

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals this week dismissed an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by a McAllen man serving life in prison for his role in kidnapping a man who was taken to Reynosa and killed more than 23 years ago.

The court rejected the request from Humberto Rodriguez Jr., who a jury found guilty of his role in the brutal crime that occurred on July 17, 1997.

The scheme to kidnap the victim, Hector Salinas, began after the DEA arrested him for storing 200 pounds of marijuana at a second-hand clothing store on behalf of seven people.

Salinas agreed to testify for the government in return for consideration on his own sentence.

The trial was set to begin on July 21, 1997, but on July 17, 1997, four men abducted Salinas from his business.

“Salinas’ body was recovered in Mexico on July 22, 1997. One of the seven defendants was Salinas’ brother, Jorge Rodriguez, (Mario) Garcia’s ‘right hand man.’ Without Salinas’ testimiony, all seven were acquitted at the federal trial,” a previous ruling in Rodriguez’s case states.

The men kidnapped Salinas under the guise of looking at a car the man was selling.

“While they were there, a green Suburban pulled up. A big, tall person got out of the back seat, asked for Salinas, and asked about the car for sale. Salinas opened the door of the car, and the man grabbed him, put a pistol to his neck, and pushed him inside the Suburban. A short man got out of the suburban, pointed a machine gun at them and said not to move, and then got into the truck which then drove away,” the ruling stated.

The kidnappers switched vehicles, burned the green Suburban and crossed into Reynosa where they delivered Salinas to a drug trafficker on the outskirts of the city.

The kidnappers had told Salinas that he would be set free after the federal trial was over. Instead, he was beaten and choked with an extension cord.

Rodriguez is eligible for parole in 2039, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.