Jose Luis Saenz, East L.A. Hit Man Trained by Mexican Cartels, Captured in Mexico After Three Years on F.B.I.'s Most Wanted List
Read the LA Weekly cover story: East Los Angeles Hit Man Trained by Mexican Cartels.
Back in 1998, shortly after he was fingered for three killings in the Los Angeles area (including that of his estranged girlfriend and the mother of 2-year-old baby) Jose Luis Saenz disappeared to Mexico. That's where, the FBI suspects, he was trained to become a high-level executioner and trafficker working on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Saenz, who has been on the FBI's Top Ten Fugitives List since October 2009, was captured by authorities in Guadalajara, Mexico on Thanksgiving.
According to FBI Public Affairs Officer Laura Eimiller, the taskforce took extra precautions, "based on Saenz's propensity for violence, and the fact that he stated in the past he would kill police officers if confronted with arrest"--but in the end, an unarmed Saenz came peacefully, apparently surprised by officers as he left his home on Thanksgiving afternoon.
Saenz was kept overnight in Guadalajara, before he was escorted back to the United States by F.B.I. officers. He landed in LAX on Friday night.
He was not extradited, as previously reported by other outlets--Mexican authorities allowed Saenz to be deported. He was living in Mexico illegally under the fake name Giovanni Torres.
"He was living there in violation of their immigration laws--and as a consequence, deported," Eimiller says.
In addition to living under an assumed name, Saenz took other measures to obscure his identity, including attempting to remove his fingerprints and gaining a significant amount of weight.
It was all done in an effort to avoid prosecution for at least four murders dating back to 1998. (Check out our 2010 cover story on Saenz for the full story: East Los Angeles Hit Man Trained by Mexican Cartels.)
Back in '98 Saenz, or Smiley, as the 22-year-old tagger was known then, is believed to have shot two Eastside gangsters at point blank range in revenge for beating his friend, Juan Pena.
Eleven days later, authorities believe he raped then killed his estranged girlfriend (the mother of his 2-year-old daughter) out of fear she would turn him in to authorities. He left her lifeless body splayed out in a bedroom at his grandmother's house.
In 2008 after several years in Mexico, Saenz surfaced in Southern California again, where he was captured on surveillance video shooting his Oscar Torres at Torres' home in Whittier's Pellissier Village Equestrian District. Authorities believe Saenz murdered Torres over a $600,000 drug debt.
Here is the (extremely graphic) video from the scene:
Saenz was also previously sought in connection to the death of Bogart Bello, member of an East Los Angeles gang called the Lott, who was found dead with a bag over his head in his car in a Los Angeles suburb. Bello recorded songs, like this one, "Bad Things," for his label Lott Records.
The F.B.I turned Saenz over to local authorities on Friday; he is currently being held in an LAPD detention facility.