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One of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives was arrested in Mexico and returned to Los Angeles Friday night to face charges of murder, kidnapping and rape, U.S. officials said.
Reputed Los Angeles gang member Joe Luis Saenz was taken into custody in Guadalajara late Thursday following a joint operation with the Mexican government, Bill Lewis, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office, said.
Investigators said Saenz shot and killed two rival gang members in July 1998 to retaliate for an assault on one of his associates.
Saenz suspected Sigrieta Hernandez, his girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, was going to tell police about the slayings, investigators said.
He is accused of kidnapping, raping and killing her less than two weeks later.
Saenz also is believed to have killed Oscar Torres at his home in suburban Whittier in October 2008 because he failed to repay $600,000 in drug money after police seized the cash during a traffic stop.
Authorities said they have videotape from a surveillance camera at Torres' house that shows Saenz killing Torres and wounding another person.
Saenz was still listed on the FBI’s most-wanted list early Saturday, but with a red caption on his photograph reading “CAPTURED.”
Born in Los Angeles, Saenz was known to travel between the United States and Mexico.
Saenz, who is about 37 years old, was believed to be hiding in Mexico, working as an enforcer and hit man for a Mexican drug cartel.
He had a number of aliases including Zapp, Peanut Joe Smiley and Honeycutt, it added.
Saenz had been on the FBI's most-wanted list since 2009, putting him among the ranks of Osama bin Laden, Boston crime lord James "Whitey" Bulger and other notorious criminals.
There was a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to his arrest.
The Associated Press, Reuters and NBC's Ian Johnston contributed to this report.
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