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American soldier faces extradition to Mexico for murder charges

23-year-old soldier Saul Luna Villa of the 1st Armored Division in Fort Bliss is facing aggravated femicide charges in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, after being accused of killing the woman he had been dating for nearly 5 years

U.S. Army soldier stock photo
U.S. Army soldier stock photo | Shutterstock

February 6, 2024 6:41am

Updated: February 6, 2024 1:25pm

A U.S. soldier faces aggravated femicide after Mexican authorities alleged he fatally shot and killed his girlfriend in Ciudad Juárez.

Sgt. Saul Luna Villa, 23, of the 1st Armored Division in Fort Bliss, is facing aggravated femicide charges in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, after being accused of killing the woman he had been dating for nearly 5 years.

Mexican authorities issued an arrest warrant on April 14, 2023, leading to Luna Villa being taken into U.S. Marshal Service custody in September, according to a recent report published by Stars and Stripes. He is currently facing extradition to Mexico following an unsuccessful appeal to a U.S. federal court.

While official reports do not disclose the alleged victim's identity, her mother has identified her to local Mexican news outlets as Aylin Valenzuela, a 19-year-old mother.

According to Mexican news reports, the alleged victim’s mother portrayed the couple's relationship as tumultuous, marked by frequent arguments fueled by Luna Villa's possessiveness and jealousy.

In heated moments, Luna Villa physically bullied her and regularly subjected her to insults.

Luna Villa, originally from Burlington, Wis., has been stationed at Fort Bliss for over two years, as indicated by his official service record. Alongside the murder charge in Mexico, there are also pending military charges as well as a domestic violence case in Texas.

“Fort Bliss and 1st Armored Division are aware of the notification of provisional extradition of Spc. Saul Luna received from Mexico to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Army does not comment on ongoing litigation,” was the official response issued by  Lt. Col. Kimbia Rey, Fort Bliss Division spokesperson.

On April 7, the American soldier crossed the border to meet Valenzuela, disregarding a base policy prohibiting soldiers from traveling to Juarez and other parts of Mexico. The woman's mother informed Mexican police that her daughter used an Uber to travel from her house to meet Luna Villa.

After dropping off Valenzuela, the Uber driver witnessed her entering a black GMC truck with a man wearing a white shirt.

According to court documents, Valenzuela shared a picture with her mother around 7:20 p.m., displaying Luna Villa's arm in the photo, recognizable by his tattoos.

Approximately five minutes later, Luna Villa phoned the woman's mother, inquiring about her daughter's whereabouts. The mother, taken aback, informed him that she had just received a photo of her daughter with him. Following the conversation, she attempted to reach her by phone but Aylin never answered her again.

Almost simultaneously, around 7:24 p.m., a call was placed to the police reporting the discovery of a deceased female at an intersection in the Anahuac neighborhood of Ciudad Juárez.

The following day, the mother positively identified the body as her daughter. The autopsy revealed that she had been shot five times, including in the head, and stabbed five times in the chest.

Law enforcement utilized security camera footage from the neighborhood to identify an individual in a white shirt driving a black truck. The footage showed the person stopping, lowering a "bundle" from a vehicle, and leaving it on the ground at 7:21 p.m.

According to Department of Homeland Security records, by 8:32 p.m., Luna Villa is documented crossing back into the U.S. at the Cordova Bridge of the Americas in a black GMC truck, the same vehicle he frequently used to cross into Mexico.

The victim's mother has also says that her daughter told her that “he wanted her to get pregnant and have a baby girl to receive military benefits.”

Luna Villa  is currently an inmate at the West Texas Detention Center, a private prison located in Sierra Blanca.