Official: 2 escaped inmates arrested at US-Mexico border

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two murder suspects who escaped from a California jail over the weekend were arrested by federal officials while trying to enter the United States from Mexico, authorities said Wednesday.

Jonathan Salazar, 20, and Santos Fonseca, 21, were arrested by Customs and Border Protection officials at a port of entry just after midnight, said Monterey County Sheriff’s Office Capt. John Thornburg.

Thornburg said the two are in the custody of Monterey County officials and are on their way to a jail in Salinas, hundreds of miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Salazar and Fonseca escaped Sunday from the Monterey County jail in Salinas after climbing through a hole they made in the ceiling of a bathroom, squeezing through a hollow wall and kicking open a hatch.

Thornburg said authorities received a tip that the pair, both born and raised in California, had been spotted in the Mexican border city of Tijuana and alerted federal officials.

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Salazar had been reported to be at a motel in Marina about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the Marin County jail in Salinas, but authorities found no one there Tuesday night after a nearly eight-hour standoff.

Both had been in custody since 2018 and were awaiting trial on murder counts and “numerous other felony charges” in separate cases.

Investigators have not yet determined how long they worked on making the hole or if anyone else helped them escape the jail in the farming city of about 160,000 people roughly 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of San Francisco. They were reported missing at 8:15 a.m. Sunday.

Salazar was arrested in the shooting death of 20-year-old Jaime Martinez as the victim drove in Salinas with his girlfriend and 18-month-old son. The woman was shot and treated at a hospital, while the child wasn’t hurt.

Police investigated the Oct. 12, 2017, shooting as gang-related. Officers said his tattoos, including the letter P on his cheek, refer to his Sureño offshoot gang, La Posada Trece, the Californian reported. His trial was scheduled to begin in January.

Fonseca is charged with shooting Lorenzo Gomez Acosta, 37, to death on June 2, 2018, while the victim sat in his car on a video call with his wife in Mexico, the Californian reported.

She saw a scuffle, heard her husband screaming “no” and then gunshots rang out, Salinas police Officer Froylan Aranda said.

Fonseca told police that his gang leader told him to kill someone to prove he was still loyal to the “Boronda gang,” Detective Gabriela Contreras testified. Acosta was reportedly chosen at random.

Three days later, Fonseca shot and killed Ernesto Garcia Cruz, 27, in a Salinas park, authorities said. He told police that the gang leader also ordered the slaying and that he picked his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend “to send him a message,” Contreras said.