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FBI: LA Gang Member Lived As ‘Average Citizen’ In Mexico

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Law enforcement officials Monday released new details about the arrest of Jose “Joe” Luis Saenz, one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives.

KNX 1070′s John Brooks reports Saenz is back in Los Angeles after being on the run for more than a decade.


At a news conference at FBI headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard in Westwood, officials said Saenz, 37, was wanted in at least four murders in Los Angeles County, along with kidnapping, rape and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution between 1998 and 2008.

He made his initial appearance in court Monday afternoon after having been arrested last Thursday in Mexico, where he also allegedly worked for a drug cartel while evading law enforcement.

FBI Special Agent Scott Garriola said despite living a life of crime, Saenz was far from living comfortably when authorities found him in Guadalajara thanks to a tip generated by a $100,000 reward.

“He was living as an average citizen in an apartment above a beauty salon,” said Garriola. “[He] removed the tattoos on his arms, he used to use Krazy Glue on his fingerprints.”

LAPD Detective Ron Chavarria said Saenz was also known as “Peanut Joe Smiley”, “Zapp” and a dozen other aliases in his East Los Angeles neighborhood, and he was considered armed and extremely dangerous.

“Not only the citizens were afraid of him, but his own gang members were afraid of him,” said Chavarria.

The son of a Mexican gang member and a mother who had substance abuse problems, Saenz is accused in the 1998 kidnapping, rape and murder of girlfriend Sigrieta Hernandez – who was also the mother of his child – as well as the October 2008 murder of a man in Whittier.

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