Twice-deported gang member charged in mysterious case of burned body in smoldering car


Kevin Joel Castro-Garcia (Photo from Metropolitan Nashville Police Department)

Kevin Joel Castro-Garcia (Photo from Metropolitan Nashville Police Department)

A 31-year-old gang member deported two times over the last decade from the U.S. to his native Honduras has been arrested and charged with criminal homicide after a burned body was found in a smoldering car last month in Tennessee.

Kevin Joel Castro-Garcia is accused in the fatal shooting of Elmer Nahum Miranda-Martinez, 37, police said. He was arrested Tuesday by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.

The victim’s badly burned body was found on Sept. 27 in the trunk of a vehicle that had been set on fire and left in a wooded area off the 300 block of Franklin Limestone Road in Nashville, police said in a news release.

A worker who was going to clear brush in the area arrived around 10:30 that morning and found the vehicle still smoldering but totally burned, police said.

Detectives believe that Miranda-Martinez was shot and killed before his body was placed in the vehicle, but the motive for the shooting remains under investigation.

Details about the case were not revealed, but an affidavit reviewed by Law&Crime outlines how the case came to light.

At the time of the autopsy, the victim’s identity was not known, the document said. During the investigation, someone came forward providing information about the victim’s identity and the homicide.

“One of the persons providing information stated that the above listed defendant told him he had shot and killed the victim,” the affidavit said.

Others who were present at the time of the murder reportedly told the that person, in detail, how the murder occurred and the manner in which the suspect disposed of the victim’s body, the affidavit said.

“The identity provided for the victim by the informers proved to be accurate and assisted with identifying his remains,” the affidavit said. “Furthermore, the informers gave details about the murder already known to detectives, but that information had not been released at that time.”

In an email to Law&Crime, ICE outlined the suspect’s deportations.

On June 27, 2002, the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) encountered Castro near Laredo, Texas. The former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in Harlingen, Texas, released Castro on recognizance into his parental custody on July 5. On July 23, 2005, an immigration judge in Texas ordered Castro removed from the United States in absentia.

On Oct. 20, 2010, a federal fugitive task force captured Castro in a joint Homeland Security Investigations and the Metro Nashville Police Department Gang Unit case.

The Nashville Gang Unit identified Castro as a member of the Sur 13 gang. On Nov. 5, 2010, he was sent back to Honduras.

Then, on Oct. 2, 2018, border patrol agents apprehended Castro near Hidalgo, Texas. He was issued a notice to reinstate his prior order of removal. The following year — on March 23, 2019 — he was sent back to Honduras again.

Authorities said he then re-entered the United States at an unknown time and location.

He remains in custody without bond at the Davidson County Jail pending the outcome of his state criminal proceedings, ICE said.

Court records show he’s set to appear in court on Oct. 20.

His defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Law&Crime.

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