LOS ANGELES - A Mexican national wanted for killing a police officer in his native country more than three years ago was turned over to Mexican law enforcement officials at the San Ysidro border crossing this morning, following his capture by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers here yesterday.
Jaime Eufracio Castaneda, 37, was taken into custody on immigration violations at an apartment near Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., by members of ICE's fugitive operations team and the U.S. Marshals Pacific South West Regional Fugitive Task Force. Castaneda was arrested after the Task Force received a tip regarding his possible whereabouts from authorities in the Los Angeles Regional Office of Mexico's Attorney General.
According to Mexican authorities, Castaneda is wanted in the Mexican state of Jalisco for the November 2004 shooting death of a police officer in the community of San Julian. Officer Francisco Franco Gonzalez was shot and killed as he sat in his patrol car. Witnesses say Castaneda was driving through downtown San Julian when he spotted the officer in his parked car. After stopping his own vehicle, Castaneda allegedly drew a gun from his waistband and shot the officer at point blank range.
"This man is suspected in the cold blooded killing of a police officer. Our goal is not only to see justice served, but to protect law abiding citizens on both sides of the border from this type of senseless violence," said Brian DeMore, acting field office director for ICE detention and removal operations in Los Angeles. "In the last 15 months, ICE's fugitive operations teams in Los Angeles have captured nearly 60 foreign nationals who were wanted in their native countries for serious crimes, including rape and murder. The message for violent fugitives who flee to this country is clear - you can't outrun the law."
Under questioning by ICE, Castaneda said he illegally entered the United States most recently in 2005 and had been living here using the alias Refugio Cruz. At the time of his arrest, Castaneda was in possession of a high-quality counterfeit "green card" bearing that alias. ICE officers advise the Guadalajara native was previously deported in 1995. ICE reinstated that prior removal order to carry out his repatriation earlier today.
In addition to the outstanding murder warrant in Mexico, Castaneda also has a criminal history in the United States. The suspected cop killer's U.S. record includes several prior arrests for drug possession and he was facing federal charges in Iowa in 2003 for transporting methamphetamine, but fled before the prosecution could be completed.