A four-year manhunt for a suspect in the 1998 fatal shooting of a corrections officer in Anaheim ended late Thursday when homicide detectives arrested him at the Mexican border.
Guillermo Espinoza, 40, a U.S. citizen, was taken into custody at the San Ysidro Port of Entry late March 3 after Mexican authorities located him in Mexicali, Mexico, earlier in the day and immediately deported him for unlawful entry into the country, according to an APD news release Friday.
Espinoza is the fourth person tied to the Jan. 17, 1998 murder of California Corrections Officer Elizabeth Begaren on the onramp to the eastbound 91 freeway from East Street in Anaheim — a case that went cold for nearly 15 years.
Begaren’s husband, Nuzzio Begaren, was arrested in February 2012 and convicted in 2013 for orchestrating his wife’s murder for nearly $1 million in life insurance. He is serving a sentence of 26 years to life in prison.
Two other men, Jose Luis Sandoval and Rudy Duran, both fellow Los Angeles gang members of Espinoza, also were convicted for their roles in the murder.
Espinoza fled the country when he realized detectives were focusing on him as the shooter, the news release said.
In May 2012, the Orange County Grand Jury indicted Espinoza on one count of first-degree murder with the special circumstances of murder during the commission of a robbery and murder for financial gain, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
An arrest warrant then was issued for Espinoza, who in August 2012 was featured as a fugitive on TV’s “America’s Most Wanted.”
For the past four years, personnel from local, regional, federal and Mexican law enforcement organizations have provided the APD with extensive investigative assistance, the news release said. These agencies include the Los Angeles Police
Department LA High Impact Drug Tracking Area Program (HIDTA) Group 51, the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force, as well as agents from the Baja State Police: Policía Estatal Preventiva de Baja California.
Espinoza had been living under an assumed name in Mexcico and was in custody in Mexicali in March 2015, but he was released before his true identity was determined, the news release said.
Espinoza was transported to and booked at the Anaheim Detention Facility and is being held without bail.
If convicted on all counts, he faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.