Fugitive wanted for murder, kidnapping and racketeering captured in Mexico

A Mission man who was wanted in connection with federal criminal charges made his first appearance in a federal courtroom Monday after authorities captured him in Mexico, according to a news release from the FBI.

Federal officials stated that Juan Alberto Mendez, 47, an alleged associate of the Gulf Cartel, had been wanted for multiple federal charges, including murder in aid of racketeering, between 2015 and 2018 in Indiana and Texas.

Mendez, the release read, was captured by federal agents Thursday, Aug. 1, in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico, and was deported to the United States the following day.

In May, a federal court issued an 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, the release read.

That warrant came nearly three years after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, issued a federal arrest warrant when Mendez was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

On Monday, Mendez made his initial appearance in federal court in Houston. A counsel determination hearing will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christina A. Bryan.

A detention hearing will be scheduled after this hearing, the release stated.

“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 (Fiscalia General De La Republica – FGR), the Criminal Investigations Agency, Mexico  (Agencia de Investigaciones Criminales – AIC), and the National Institute of Immigration, Mexico (Instituto Nacional de Migración),” the release read.

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.