LOS ANGELES — U.S. officials have arrested a man in East Los Angeles suspected in the 1998 killing of 19 men, women and children in Baja California, one of the bloodiest episodes of drug violence in Mexican history.
Authorities with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Jesus Ruben Mancada on Thursday evening as he walked barefoot from his home to take out the trash.
Told he was wanted only for an immigration violation, Mancada agreed to be deported and walked across the border Friday night into the waiting hands of Mexican authorities.
Mancada, 33, is accused of being one of several military-clad gunmen who stormed a ranch in El Sauzal, near Ensenada, on Sept. 17, 1998, pulled victims from their beds, herded them onto a patio and shot them to death. Among the victims were children ages 2 and 1. The killings purportedly stemmed from a marijuana trafficking dispute.
Mexican authorities arrested three suspects within a couple months of the slayings and obtained arrest warrants for several others, including Mancada.
Mancada told U.S. immigration officials that he crossed into San Ysidro in December 1998 and spent the past decade living both in California and Oregon, said Brian M. DeMore of the ICE's detention and removal service.
He and his wife, Carmen, had four children and lived recently in a one-bedroom apartment.
Carmen says her husband was with her at the time of the massacre. But the Mexico attorney general says that Mancada was an associate of the Arellano Felix cartel, one of the country's most powerful organized crime operations in the 1990s, and that he was one of the gunmen involved.