Many people are left wondering how an illegal immigrant accused of a violent crime spree got a U.S. passport.
It’s becoming the biggest question in the case of Sylvestre Franco-Luviano who is in the Dallas County jail for what will likely be capital murder charges for the shooting deaths of two men.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick called Luviano’s case a vivid example of the federal government's failure to protect the border.
"If you go to the gas station today and you have the wrong credit card, you can't even pump your gas,” the lieutenant governor said. “That's how good we are with technology to find out if you are the real person."
Luviano is a man with many aliases. He obtained a U.S. passport in Dallas to cross the border at least 35 times. The Dallas County jail booked him in as 43-year-old Juan Rios, the name of the South Texan whose identity he stole to obtain his passport.
North Texas police are preparing a capital murder charge against Luviano for the 10-hour shooting rampage that spanned from Dallas to Cedar Hill Sunday evening that ended with the death of 23-year-old Ruben Moreno and 44-year-old Welton Betts.
In September of 2012, the federal court in Dallas prosecuted Luviano for using a fake driver’s license and birth certificate to obtain a U.S. passport. For several years, that legal U.S. document gave him free passage to and from Mexico.
"Let's think about these innocent lives that were taken and others threatened that should never have been taken because this man should have never been in this country,” said Patrick.
It wasn't until the real Juan Rios tried to apply for a passport that Luviano's crime was discovered. Court documents say federal agents checked a fingerprint database and realized Sylvester Franco-Luviano, a.k.a. Juan Rios, was in an Austin jail for car burglary.
Documents show Luviano was deported to Mexico a total of three times – in June of 1996, a second time in October of 2009, and the third time in 2015 after the passport fraud was discovered.
How Luviano got back into the United States, this time, remains unclear.
"This is not about good people coming in here for the American Dream,” said Patrick. “We have to secure the border to keep out the criminals, to keep out the drug runners, the rapists, the child molesters and the killers."
Former ICE agents and security consultants say this case is a black eye for the federal government. One expert said, this time, it was a matter of public safety, but the next time could be national security or even a terrorist act.