HOUSTON (AP) – A Texas prison escapee on the run for almost 16 years has been captured by authorities in Mexico and awaits extradition to the U.S. to finish serving his sentence on charges of attempted capital murder of a police officer, state Department of Criminal Justice officials said Wednesday.
Juan Salaz was apprehended last week. The 37-year-old American citizen had been sought for years by authorities on both sides of the border.
Salaz escaped the night of March 22, 1997, from the Garza East prison in Beeville in South Texas by climbing over three 16-foot fences all topped with razor wire.
At the time, he was serving three concurrent 35-year sentences for aggravated kidnapping with a deadly weapon and two counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer for a 1995 incident involving two Houston officers.
He now also faces a felony escape charge besides serving the remainder of his sentence.
Prison records show on April 2, 1995, Salaz and another man, Geronimo Soto Alvarado, abducted a man at gunpoint and demanded a ransom. Houston police undercover officers involved in the case arranged for the exchange. After the abducted man was freed, they identified themselves as police and Salaz and Alvarado opened fire on them. A police sergeant avoided serious injury when he was saved by his body armor. Another officer suffered a hand wound.
Salaz was seriously wounded when police returned fire. He recovered from his injuries and subsequently pleaded guilty.
Alvarado, now 45, also was arrested and is serving a life sentence for two convictions of aggravated assault and another for aggravated kidnapping.
Prison officials said sources for years had told them Salaz was hiding out in Mexico but he managed to evade police. The hunt for him involved the U.S. Marshals Service, the Texas prison system’s Office of Inspector General and Mexican law enforcement agencies.
“Salaz thought that he had eluded authorities by starting a new life in Mexico,” Department of Criminal Justice Inspector General Bruce Toney said Wednesday. “He was wrong.”
Salaz is to be returned to Texas custody once the Mexican government approves his extradition.
Salaz’s capture leaves Jose Fernando Bustos-Diaz, 24, as the lone Texas prison fugitive. He fled in April 2010 from the Brisco Unit in Dilley, near San Antonio. The prison houses medium- and minimum-security inmates. He also is believed to have fled to Mexico.
Bustos-Diaz was serving 35 years for a 2005 murder in Harris County.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Caring Crisis: Rising tide In Alzheimer’s disease leads to shortage of caregivers
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain