SAN DIEGO - Two Mexican nationals wanted for murder in their native country, including one suspected of triple homicide, were turned over to representatives from the Mexican Attorney General's Office at the border crossing in San Ysidro, Calif., this morning by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The suspects include Jose de Jesus Espericueta-Flores, 42, who is accused of slaying the president of a large produce company and two other men during an altercation in the Mexican state of Nayarit on June 18, 2001. According to Mexican authorities, the victims were dining at a restaurant in the town of Tecuala when Espericueta and a friend joined them at their table. Witnesses say Espericueta began arguing with the produce company president, Aureliano Estrada Ambriz. Moments later, Espericueta reportedly leaped to his feet, drew a handgun and told his companion "if you don't shoot them, you'll be the first to die." At that point, witnesses say both men opened fire, killing the three men. In addition to Estrada, the other victims were Sergio Alberto Magdaleno Ruiz and Armando Lopez Ruiz. Seven days after the slaying, authorities in Tecuala, Mexico, issued a formal warrant for Espericueta's arrest. In addition to the triple homicide, Espericueta is also wanted for questioning in connection with the murder of two local police officers in Tecuala.
Espericueta's repatriation follows his capture in Cathedral City, Calif., on Monday where he was taken into custody on administrative immigration violations by Los Angeles-based officers for ICE and the U.S. Marshals Service. The team received substantial assistance from the Cathedral City Police Department.
Also turned over to Mexican authorities this morning was Teodolo Llanes-Gutierrez, 39, who is wanted for a slaying in Sinaloa, Mexico, in May 2007. Llanes allegedly shot and killed Jose Acosta-Lopez at point blank range after he found the victim asleep in his vehicle. According to Mexican authorities, Llanes believed his wife and the victim were having an affair. Llanes was arrested on administrative immigration violations by ICE officers on July 30 outside his home in Corona, Calif. At a subsequent hearing, an immigration judge found Llanes had no legal basis to remain in the United States, clearing the way for his return today.
The return of the two murder suspects took place as ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton paid his first visit to Southern California since his appointment in February. The assistant secretary noted the capture and return of the fugitives shows the significant public safety benefits of the heightened cooperation between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies.
"Combating cross border crime and violence is a top priority for ICE and the Department of Homeland Security," Morton said. "Our goal is not only to see justice served, but to protect law-abiding citizens on both sides of the border. ICE uses its unique immigration enforcement authorities to protect our communities from criminal aliens who pose a public safety threat, including suspects fleeing justice in their own countries."
The Mexican Attorney General's Office also underscored the importance of its work with ICE to target potentially dangerous criminal fugitives.
"We are determined that our borders will not be barriers to bringing dangerous fugitives to justice," said David Macedo, regional legal deputy attaché for the Mexican Attorney General in Los Angeles. "These two men are suspected of committing brutal, senseless crimes in Mexico. Our goal is to protect our citizens from those who have no respect for the law or human life."
Since Fiscal Fear 2007, ICE officers assigned to the agency's Office of Detention and Removal program nationwide have arrested more than 190 fleeing foreign criminal fugitives from countries around the world.