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Arraignment Postponed of Most Wanted Fugitive Arrested in Mexico

Jose "Joe'' Luis Saenz charged in connection with the 2008 killing of Oscar Torres was postponed to Jan. 8.

A gang member suspected of four homicides in Los Angeles County beginning in 1998 who had been listed among the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives since October 2009 made his initial appearance in court Monday.

The scheduled arraignment in Pomona Superior Court for Jose "Joe'' Luis Saenz in connection with the 2008 killing of Oscar Torres was postponed to Jan. 8.

Saenz -- known variously as "Zapp,'' "Peanut Joe Smiley'' and "Honeycutt,'' among other aliases -- was arrested late Thursday in Guadalajara, Mexico and arrived at Los Angeles International Airport under guard about 7 p.m. Friday, said Laura Eimiller of the FBI.

"He was very difficult to find,'' Eimiller said. "It took a lot of determination.''

At a news conference at FBI headquarters in Westwood, FBI Assistant Director in Charge, Los Angeles Bill Lewis told reporters the arrest was "without incident'' and Saenz "was surprised.''

"This was a very well-thought-out arrest plan,'' Lewis said. "They brought in a tactical team to ensure the safety of the officers and the citizens around.

"We do know that he took a couple of steps to mask his identity. He had some tattoos removed. He tried to alter his fingerprints and ... had gained a significant amount of weight, which changed his appearance.''

Saenz is suspected of killing two rival gang members -- Josue Hernandez and Leonardo Ponce -- on July 25, 1998, as payback for an attack on an associate.

Saenz later allegedly kidnapped, raped and murdered girlfriend Sigrieta Hernandez, the mother of his child, after she threatened to turn him in for the Hernandez and Ponce killings.

Authorities said they have video of Saenz killing Torres in October 2008 in Whittier over a $600,000 drug debt.

Reward money up to $100,000 had been offered in the case, but it was not immediately clear if or how it would be disseminated.

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Gman Tello November 30, 2012 at 12:01 AM
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