A woman who evaded arrest for three months in connection with a deadly Carson shooting in April has been taken into custody after authorities found her in Mexico along with her teenage daughter, whose disappearance triggered an Amber Alert, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday.
Maricela Mercado and her daughter, 16-year-old Alora Benitez of Redondo Beach, were detained Tuesday in Chihuahua, Mexico and deported to the U.S. after they entered the country illegally, the Sheriff’s Department said.
They were taken to the port of entry in El Paso, Texas and handed over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. Per a warrant issued in Los Angles County, Mercado was arrested by police in El Paso, where she remains in custody until her extradition to California.
The FBI has taken custody of Benitez until she can be reunited with her family, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Officials named Mercado and her ex-husband, Roman Cerratos, as suspects in the death of Jeffrey Appel, a 32-year-old Las Vegas man found with gunshot wounds on his neck and torso inside a parked car in Carson the morning of April 16.
Cerratos, 39, was arrested in Mexico on June 13 and has since been charged with kidnapping and murder, with special allegations that he personally used a handgun and a knife. He’s being held at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles on $3 million bail, county inmate records show.
The California Highway Patrol issued an Amber Alert for Benitez on April 18, a day after she was last seen with her mother and Cerratos in Torrance. The BMW associated with the alert was discovered unoccupied in the border town of San Ysidro on April 19.
Authorities have not disclosed a possible motive in the killing.
KTLA’s Jennifer Thang contributed to this report.