- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2006

An illegal alien accused of killing a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff in 2002 and fleeing to Mexico in a case that became a symbol of national outrage over how immigration laws are enforced has been arrested in Mexico.

Jorge Arroyo Garcia, also known as Armando Garcia, was captured Thursday by agents with the Mexican Agencia Federal de Investigaciones (AFI), assisted by the U.S. Marshals Service, in the city of Tonala in Jalisco state.

Deputy David March, 33, was fatally shot April 29, 2002, after a traffic stop in Irwindale, Calif. Deputy March, a seven-year veteran, was found lying on the street by a passing motorist, who summoned help.

“It’s a great day,” Deputy March’s widow, Theresa, told reporters in California. “I feel so relieved no one was hurt. No one has to live another nightmare at the hands of Armando Garcia. That was my heaviest burden — that he would kill again for his freedom.”

Arroyo Garcia, named immediately as the suspect in the case, fled to Mexico after the shooting. His extradition to California to face a possible death penalty had seemed unlikely, based on a 1978 treaty that allows Mexico to deny extradition in a capital punishment case.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles have said they will seek extradition and ask for a life sentence without parole in the case.

The killing resulted in a call by lawmakers, prosecutors and law-enforcement officials for changes in an immigration-enforcement system that allowed criminal aliens to flee. Mrs. March testified before Congress, calling for changes in the law, and appeared at rallies and worked to lobby for Arroyo Garcia’s arrest and extradition.

Authorities said the arrest was based on information provided by the Marshals Service’s Los Angeles regional fugitive task force, its Mexico City field office, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Marshals Service spokesman Don Hines said U.S. and Mexican authorities worked closely for four years to locate Arroyo Garcia, finally nabbing him at his uncle’s house in Tonala, which had been under surveillance by AFI and task force agents.

After his arrest, Mr. Hines said Arroyo Garcia threatened the AFI agents and said his associates would rescue him.

A suspected drug dealer, Arroyo Garcia had been ordered deported three times as an illegal alien before the deputy’s slaying, but returned to this country each time.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said Arroyo Garcia was a suspect in the sale of methamphetamines in California and later was convicted on felony drug-distribution charges and sentenced to four years in prison. He also was arrested in 2000 by police in El Monte, Calif., carrying a Tec-9 machine pistol — for which he was deported.

Records also show he was identified as the suspect in two drive-by shootings.

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