One of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives was taken into custody on Thursday in a joint operation between Mexican law enforcement and the U.S.
Jose "Joe" Luis Saenz, who was wanted in multiple slayings in Los Angeles, was captured in Guadalajara, Mexico late Thursday and flown to L.A. on Friday to face charges of murder, kidnapping and rape.
Saenz, 37, was born in East Los Angeles and was a member of the Cuatro Flats gang of the Hollenbeck area. He is suspected of committing the murders of two rival gang members in July 1998 and the suspected kidnapping, rape and murder of his girlfriend that same year. He is also suspected of murdering another person in 2008.
FBI agent Scott Garriola says this was one of his toughest cases to crack. "I think the primary reason why it was so difficult, he was moving around quite a bit, throughout Central America and North America," said Garriola. "He had been to Canada. He had been back and forth throughout the United States, throughout Mexico and Central America."
Saenz, who also went by several aliases, including Giovanni Torres, Smiley and Peanut, among others, had access to large amounts of money because of his connection to Mexican drug cartels.
"This man had a lot of resources, a lot of money," said KPCC's Erika Aguilar, who has been following the case. "In 2008, a drug bust went down in Missouri and that included about $600,000 and the case agent said this was just an example of some kind of cash that was easily available to him."
It's unclear what he was doing in Mexico, but FBI authorities think he may have been working as an enforcer for the cartels while trying to hide out from authorities. According to officials, Saenz was surprised by his arrest and is quoted as saying he "got sloppy." There was also a reward of $100,000 for information leading to his arrest.
Saenz is in court in Pomona today, but the case will move the the L.A. district attorney's office where he will be charged with four counts of murder, one count of kidnapping and one count of rape.