LOS ANGELES (AP) – A murder suspect on the FBI’s most wanted list gained weight and switched identities to evade authorities for 14 years, but his notoriety and a $100,000 reward finally led to his capture, the agency said Monday.
Jose “Joe” Luis Saenz was arrested in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Thursday on suspicion of four murders and remained jailed in Southern California, the FBI said.
The joint operation involved U.S. and Mexican authorities.
At a Los Angeles news conference, FBI officials said Saenz, 37, had altered his appearance and lived in a modest apartment over a beauty shop when he was taken into custody.
Saenz, a former East Los Angeles gang member who once went by the nicknames “Peanut Joe” and “Zapp,” had been a fugitive since being suspected of two Los Angeles killings in 1998.
He was placed on the FBI’s top 10 fugitive list in October 2009, joining the likes of Osama bin Laden and Boston crime lord James “Whitey” Bulger.
To evade arrest, he moved frequently, used some two dozen aliases, gained weight, had prominent tattoos removed, and tried to alter his fingertips with glue, FBI officials said.
Saenz had money to move around from his work as an enforcer for a Mexican drug cartel, authorities said.
“We were dogged in our determination to find him, but when you have that many aliases, and you have that much money and connections and you move around that much, it makes it a little more difficult,” FBI Special Agent Scott Garriola said.
Tips generated by Saenz’s placement on the list and by a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to his arrest aided his capture.
Los Angeles County prosecutors allege that Saenz shot and killed two rival gang members in July 1998 to retaliate for the beating of one of his associates.
Weeks later, he was accused of kidnapping, raping and killing his girlfriend, who was the mother of his daughter, because he feared she would tell authorities about the killings.
Authorities believe that Saenz fled to Mexico but was back in Southern California in October 2008, when a Whittier man was killed for failing to repay $600,000 in drug money after police seized the cash during a traffic stop.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development