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03/05/2012

TOP STORY: HSI's fast actions lead to capture of Los Angeles-area double murder suspect

Successful investigations stem from partnerships between law enforcement agencies at all levels of government. That was the case when a Redondo Beach police detective rang a Los Angeles-based Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent on Feb. 28. The detective needed assistance locating a double-murder suspect who may have fled to Mexico. The suspect had allegedly murdered his ex-girlfriend and her mother.

The HSI special agent quickly hung up the phone and called Salvador Ochoa, HSI's assistant attaché in Tijuana, Mexico. Ochoa did a bit of research and reached out to his law enforcement counterparts in the Mexican state of Baja California. He alerted them that the suspect may have checked into a hotel in the resort city of Rosarito Beach. Within two hours of receiving Ochoa's call, state police surrounded the hotel and arrested the murder suspect without incident.

"We always hear about the coordination between federal and local law enforcement, but we don't often have the opportunity to see it in action," said Redondo Beach Police Chief Joe Leonardi. "This suspect's capture is a phenomenal example of how personal relationships pay off. When we called HSI and asked for assistance, they didn't ask 'what for,' all they said is 'what can we do?'"

The next day, the Mexican government deported the individual. He was transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection's custody at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, where he awaited the arrival of Redondo Beach detectives. He was arraigned on murder charges on March 2.

"This case shows yet again why HSI's international presence is so important to our ongoing enforcement efforts and how the close working relationships we forge with our foreign counterparts contribute to that success," said Ochoa. "It's truly amazing – less than 2 ½ hours elapsed between the time our special agent received the lead until the suspect was in handcuffs south of the border."