03/21/2007

FBI captures reputed gang member, cop killer in L.A.

By Richard Winton
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — An FBI-led fugitive task force has captured a reputed 18th Street gang member in Huntington Park who was wanted by the Mexican government in the slaying of a Zacatecas municipal police officer.

Odilon Carlos, also known as Odilon Carlos-Marquez, was turned over Tuesday to Mexican authorities by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at the San Ysidro border crossing.

Officials said Carlos, 27, was taken into custody the day before by a team of FBI agents, Los Angeles police officers and immigration officers as he walked out of a market in the 6400 block of Santa Fe Avenue.

"This capture should send a message to fugitives from justice that crossing the U.S.-Mexican border does not provide sanctuary," said J. Stephen Tidwell, assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles office.

Carlos' capture follows recent arrests, including one this month, by Mexican authorities of suspected gang members sought by Los Angeles-area law enforcement officials. Steve Garcia, a murder suspect on the Los Angeles Police Department's list of 10 most-wanted gang members, was caught March 2 as he was buying ice cream in Rosarito Beach, Mexico.

Carlos was described as a member of L.A.'s largest gang, the 18th Street gang. Officials said Carlos had been deported in 2005 after serving five years in prison on a 1999 felony conviction for possessing an Uzi automatic weapon.

On Dec. 28, he allegedly used a similar Uzi to open fire on three Zacatecas municipal officers, killing one and seriously injuring the other two, said Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman.

After the shooting, Mexican authorities searched for the suspect for several days but were unable to find Carlos in the rugged mountains near Zacatecas. The suspect was living in that city in central Mexico.

This month FBI officials were contacted by Mexican law enforcement authorities, who said Carlos had illegally returned to the United States and was living in the Los Angeles area, Eimiller said.

That information led the fugitive task force to the Huntington Park area, where Carlos' girlfriend lives, she said.

Jim Hayes, director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's field office in L.A., said that since January 2006, fugitive task forces working in the area have taken into custody 39 foreign nationals sought in their native countries on suspicion of serious crimes, including rape and murder.

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