The Buffalo Soldier Gate at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The Buffalo Soldier Gate at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Rose L. Thayer/Stars and Stripes)

AUSTIN, Texas — A Fort Bliss soldier agreed Monday to be extradited “as soon as possible” to Mexico, where he has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend.

Spc. Saul Luna Villa, 23, who also goes by the nickname “Pantera,” waived his rights under the U.S. extradition treaty with Mexico and asked a U.S. federal court in El Paso to expedite his return to Mexico, according to court documents filed in the Western District of Texas.

“I admit that I am the individual against whom charges are pending in Mexico and for whom process in outstanding there,” Luna Villa stated in court documents that he signed Monday.

Luna Villa is from Burlington, Wis., and has been stationed at Fort Bliss for more than two years, according to his official service record. He is a mortarman assigned to the 1st Armored Division.

Spc. Saul Luna Villa is charged with murder in Mexico for the April 7, 2023, death of his girlfriend, according to online federal court records.

Spc. Saul Luna Villa is charged with murder in Mexico for the April 7, 2023, death of his girlfriend, according to online federal court records. (U.S. Army)

The soldier has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since September and will remain with them until extradition is complete, according to court documents. As of Tuesday, he was still an inmate at the West Texas Detention Center, a private prison in Sierra Blanca.

Luna Villa is accused of killing a 19-year-old woman on April 7, 2023, in Juarez, the Mexican town just south of Fort Bliss and El Paso.

Court documents do not name the woman, but her mother identified her in local news reports as Aylin Valenzuela. Luna Villa had traveled across the border to Juarez to visit the woman the same day that Valenzuela was killed, and he was seen returning to the U.S. shortly after the woman’s body was found.

Security camera footage from the intersection where Valenzuela’s body was found showed a man driving a truck that is the same color as Luna Villa’s truck, lowering a “bundle” from the vehicle, and then driving away.

Valenzuela also sent a photo of herself to her mother’s phone in the minutes before she died that included Luna Villa’s arm, which the mother identified by his tattoos, according to court documents. Mexican authorities issued the arrest warrant for Luna Villa on April 14, 2023.

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.

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