The BAU team heads to Texas to track a serial killer targeting illegal immigrants attempting to make safe passage into the U.S..
In the Mexican border town of Terlingua, Texas, three decapitated heads are found outside the sheriff's office. One of those heads was a recent death, while the other two were killed some time ago, although the decapitations themselves conducted recently. The BAU's initial thoughts are that it has to do with the border drug trade, or that because the more decomposed heads displayed now, the drug trade issue is a red herring for illegal immigration from Mexico. Indeed the three deaths are of John or Jane Doe's, fueling the BAU's speculation that they are illegal immigrants from Mexico. Believing the murders drug related, the deputy sheriffs in Terlingua arrest Omar Morales, head of one of the local drug cartels. Recently arrived Sheriff Ruiz on the other hand is certain Morales is not guilty of these murders, and that the deaths have to do with her knowledge of known illegal immigrants missing, the heads a sign for her to stop what has only been her limited investigation thus far. Based on physical evidence of the heads and an interview with Morales, the BAU come up with a profile. But it isn't until J.J. divulges some information she overheard that the BAU connect the profile to the unsub.
- We open on the U.S.-Mexico border. A Mexican makes a break for it when -- suddenly! -- headlights appear. The man is being followed by an ATV. The rider wears a dark helmet ... and carries a machete. CHOP! Sometime later, kids riding bicycles discover the victim's severed head in a Styrofoam cooler. Time to call in the BAU.
Jennifer explains that there were actually THREE heads -- a few of which died weeks ago, but were separated from their necks only recently. The heads were also placed near the sheriff's station. Emily notes that the unsub has an "an endless supply of anonymous victims crossing the border everyday." Derek calls it a "serial killer's perfect storm." On the plane ride southwest, Rossi wonders why the killer "announced" himself -- considering that 5,000 miles of desert means he could have gone unnoticed for years. Garcia notes that a local cartel has recently introduced a new strain of heroin. "We need to watch our back," says Derek, checking an automatic weapon.
Sure enough, cartel members "welcome" the BAU to town by blocking the way to the tiny sheriff's station. Inside, the officers explain that they recently Omar, the leader of the drug-trafficking group. "He was headed for the airport," a deputy says. Hotch then meets Sheriff Ruiz -- a lady. She thinks Omar was falsely arrested -- and has bigger fish to fry anyway. "I count more than 20 missing immigrants in just the six months I've been sheriff," Ruiz says. "No one will make an official report, but I believe someone around here has been killing for a long time."
Meanwhile, Reid and Rossi interview the coroner. She explains that all the victims had sand and dust in their throats. "Like they breathed in the sand?" Reid asks. Declares Rossi: "They were running." Later, Hotch questions Omar, who denies responsibility for the heads. Instead, he blames "the Saint of Death." Ruiz explains that "It's who people are blaming," she says. The next morning, Ruiz arrives at work to find another decapitated head impaled on the fence outside HQ. "He's becoming more focused on you, sheriff," Rossi says. Hotch agrees, saying "You've touched a nerve." Ruiz says that she left New York to get away from murder and laments the fact that there doesn't seem to be anywhere that people don't kill people.
Profile time. Emily explain that the cops should be looking for a "hunter," though he normally looks for the weakest members of the pack. Derek suggests it means that the unsub is handicapped, weak or just plain small. "This guy gets off on control," Rossi says. Ruiz suggests talking to Richard, who runs a local outreach program. Richard explains that crossing the border is "big business" and that safe houses where runners are kept prisoner come and go very quickly. Of course, Garcia finds three likely locations easy enough by cross referencing a number of factors. Ruiz is impressed.
Derek and Emily head to the first safe house -- and discover families locked in a stable. One woman has been raped. Her little boy says he saw "the Sun" during the family's flight across the border -- even though they crossed at night. Later, Deputy Boyd pulls Ruiz aside, telling his boss that he thinks the boy means a painting of a sun on a barn in the desert. So the pair takes a ride out into the barren landscape. Boyd talks of riding an ATV as a kid. Uh oh. He then starts complaining about a bum leg. Double uh oh. Boyd is resentful of Ruiz coming in from New York and "taking over", taking what should have been Boyd's job. Ruiz begins backing away -- and then draws her weapon. BAM! BAM! But who was shot?
The next morning, the team discovers that Ruiz is missing. Boyd calls on the radio, claiming to have discovered the body ... or what's left of it. Derek, Hotch and Rossi examine the mutilated corpse. Hotch notes that its condition is EXACTLY what Omar described he would to do to an enemy in order to "send a message." Hmm. Who else was listening in that interrogation? Jennifer then explains that deputy Boyd overheard the call. But to Boyd, who is charging into Omar's compound with a shotgun. The deputy starts mowing down cartel members left and right. Finally, he shoots Omar in the back. Then Boyd turns -- and uses a planted gun to murder the only witness, Deputy Gentry.
Suddenly, Gentry's cell phone rings. Boyd picks it up, but answers as his dead partner. "We think the unsub may be Deputy Boyd," Emily says. Ooops. Boyd drops the phone ... and then steps on it. Hotch calls Boyd on the police car radio -- and the killer claims it is his desert. "You think you can find me out here?" the killer taunts. "Well, come on out." Emily and Derek then head to Boyd's disgusting trailer to look for clues. Reid finds newspaper clippings about a feed and grain business called "Golden Harvest," where Boyd's father died in an accident. Their logo: a sun. Bingo.
The BAU head for the old barn, where Boyd's cop car is parked out front. GUNFIRE! The suspect is attempting to mow down Rossi and Hotch. Boyd suddenly comes ROARING out of the barn aboard the ATV. Derek, still in the SUV, opens fire with his big automatic weapon -- deafening Emily, but killing Boyd. Case closed.