Fugitive Suspected in Four LA Slayings Led Life of "Average Citizen" | NBC Southern California

Fugitive Suspected in Four LA Slayings Led Life of "Average Citizen"

Jose Saenz was arrested last week in Mexico, where authorities say he was working for a drug cartel



    (Published Monday, Nov. 26, 2012)

    One of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives lived the life of an "average citizen" in an apartment above a Guadalajara, Mexico, beauty salon for more than a decade on the run before authorities took him into custody last week.

    Jose "Joe" Luis Saenz, accused in four Los Angeles homicide cases, was working for a drug cartel when he was arrested Thursday, authorities said. He made his initial court appearance Monday during a scheduled arraignment, which was postponed to Jan. 8.

    Saenz is suspected in four homicides dating to the 1998 slayings of two rival gang members.

    Eleven days after the double-homicide, Saenz allegedly abducted and sexually assaulted his ex-girlfriend before killing her. The shooting was to prevent her from reporting Saenz to authorities, police said.

    Fugitive Led Life of "Average Citizen"

    [LA] Fugitive Led Life of "Average Citizen" Before Takedown Outside Apartment
    FBI agents talk about the arrest of one of the agency's top-10 most wanted fugitives, an accused drug cartel hitman wanted in connection with four Los Angeles slayings. Toni Guinyard reports for the NBC4 News at noon on Monday Nov. 26, 2012.
    (Published Monday, Nov. 26, 2012)

    A fourth slaying linked to Saenz, added to the FBI Top-10 Most Wanted Fugitives list in 2009, occurred in October 2008 involved a drug debt, according to authorities.The FBI noted in its Most Wanted list description of Saenz that he "has reportedly made previous statements indicating plans to kill a police officer upon his arrest" and "is believed to always carry a weapon."

    "He was living as an average citizen in an apartment above a beauty salon," said FBI agent Scott Garriola.

    Mexican authorities took Saenz into custody as he returned to the apartment, Garriola said. Saenz identified himself as "Giovanni Torres," one of about 20 aliases used during his time on the run, according to the FBI.

    LAPD Takes Custody of FBI Fugitive

    [LA] LAPD Takes Custody of FBI Fugitive
    FBI agents have turned one of their top ten most wanted fugitives over to the custody of the LAPD. Joe Luis Saenz was arrested Thursday night in Mexico. He is accused of multiple murders, kidnapping and rape. Janet Kwak reports
    (Published Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012)

    Saenz had removed tattoos on his arms, according to the FBI. Authorities claim Saenz also tried to hide by gaining weight and trying to alter his fingerprints.

    "Not guilty for life," Saenz said as he was escorted to a vehicle at LAX.

    A $100,000 reward helped lead to his capture, according to the FBI.

    City News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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