‘Most Wanted’ Fugitive to Be Arraigned in 3 Murders

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LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — An East Los Angeles gang member on the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list is expected to be arraigned Tuesday on three murder charges.

Jose Luis Saenz, 37, was arrested last Thursday in Guadalajara, Mexico after a joint operation with Mexican police.

He appeared in a Pomona courtroom on Monday to be arraigned in the murder of a Whittier man back in 2008, allegedly over a drug debt.

Saenz was dressed in a blue T-shirt and jeans, with his hands cuffed behind his back.

His hair was much longer than in the images seen in the FBI’s ‘Ten Most Wanted’ flyer.

“He had some tattoos removed, tried to alter his finger prints and I believe — talking with the case agent — gained a significant amount of weight,” said FBI Asst. Dir. Bill Lewis.

For 14 years, authorities believe Saenz eluded them by altering his appearance, moving often and living off the money he earned as an enforcer for a Mexican drug cartel.

Saenz was found based on a tip received following an offering of a $100,000 reward. A fugitive task force found him living above a beauty salon.

“The adage you can run but you can’t hide speaks truthful here,” Lewis said.

The arraignment on Monday was postponed until Jan. 8, and bail was set at $2 million.

Tuesday’s arraignment is a potential death penalty case due to kidnapping, rape and the remaining three murders of which Saenz stands accused.

Saenz is accused of killing two rival gang members in July 1998.

He is also accused in the August 1998 kidnapping, rape and murder of his girlfriend to silence her regarding the double murder.

The charges were set for no bail back when they were originally filed in 1998.

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