Fugitive Captured In 2009 Westlake Murder Of Tamale Street Vendor

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – A Guatemalan fugitive on the run for years in the 2009 shooting death of a tamale street vendor in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Westlake has been caught.

Werner Rafael Francisco, 35, was captured on Feb. 15 in a remote part of Guatemala, the FBI and Los Angeles Police Department reported Wednesday. He was caught by Guatemalan authorities and extradited to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

On Feb. 27, 2009, 46-year-old Cosme Gonzalez, a longtime street vendor, was shot during a robbery attempt in the 300 block of South Witmer Street, according to police. Gonzalez was shot in the chest after refusing to give the suspect money, police said.

Within a week, investigators had identified Francisco, who also went by the moniker “Blue,” as the suspect. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but he fled the country before he could be caught.

Detectives believed that Francisco may be in Guatemala and an arrest warrant was issued in that country in 2011. The FBI Los Angeles Fugitive Task Force joined the search for Francisco in 2012.

In February, he was caught by the Guatemalan Transnational Anti-Gang Unit. Guatemalan authorities then surrendered Francisco to U.S. authorities.

He was booked Wednesday into the Los Angeles County Jail. He is expected to be charged with murder.

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