HOUSTON – A fugitive wanted for multiple federal criminal charges, to include murder, kidnapping, and racketeering, has been captured in Mexico and returned to the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.
On Feb. 26, San Antonio FBI announced up to a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Juan Alberto Mendez, 47, an alleged associate of the Gulf Cartel, formerly of Mission, Texas, wanted for his alleged involvement in drug racketeering, including murder in aid of racketeering, between 2015 and 2018 in Indiana and Texas.
On Aug. 1, Mendez was captured in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico and deported to the United States on Aug. 2, 2019.
On May 11, 2018, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston, Texas, issued a federal arrest warrant after Mendez was charged with conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, murder in aid of racketeering and kidnapping resulting in death.
On Sep. 23, 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne, Indiana, issued a federal arrest warrant after Mendez was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute Schedule I controlled substance – heroin, Schedule II controlled substance – cocaine, Schedule I controlled substance – marijuana, and forfeiture.
Mendez had his initial appearance in federal court in Houston on Monday.
A counsel determination hearing will take place today, at 2 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christina A. Bryan. A detention hearing will be scheduled after this hearing.
The arrest of Mendez resulted from the cooperative efforts of San Antonio FBI, Indianapolis FBI, the FBI’s Legal Attaché assigned to the United States Embassy in Mexico City, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (Fiscalía General de la República - FGR), the Criminal Investigations Agency, Mexico (Agencia de Investigaciones Criminales – AIC), and the National Institute of Immigration, Mexico (Instituto Nacional de Migración).
The FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation are investigating the case along with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and police departments in McAllen, Mission, Edinburg, Weslaco and Pharr, Texas.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anibal J. Alaniz and Casey N. MacDonald of the Southern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Alexander Gottfried of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section are prosecuting the Texas case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony W. Geller of the Northern District of Indiana, Ft. Wayne, Division, is prosecuting the Indiana case.
A indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.