This LA FBI Agent Is About To Retire But Needs Your Help To Find His Missing Fugitives First
Scott Garriola can't forget the crime scene photos of a woman who'd been fatally shot in the torso with a shotgun more than two decades ago. Maybe it was the time of year, he said.
"Right beside the Christmas tree inside her apartment, two days before Christmas," Garriola told LAist.
The suspect in the 1997 killing was the woman's ex-boyfriend, Saul Aguilar Jr., who is believed to have ties to Mexicali, Mexico. He's one of a dozen suspects who escaped Garriola's grasp over the past two decades.
Now Garriola and the FBI are asking for the public's help in catching the 12 fugitives — 10 men and two women — all of whom are accused of committing violent crimes and are believed to have fled to Mexico.
This is the first time the FBI has made a single public appeal for help in catching such a large group of fugitives who apparently escaped from Southern California across the southern border.
The agency is trying to cut through the information clutter on cases that have gone cold, the agent said.
"We have pretty much exhausted normal investigative methods. That's why we are trying this [public appeal]," said Garriola, who heads the FBI's Fugitive Task Force in L.A. and came up with the idea about a year ago.
Garriola is living on borrowed time at the agency. Earlier this year he reached the FBI's mandatory retirement age of 57. He's worked in the L.A. field office since 1991.
"These were all my cases, and I am trying to not only bring closure on my side but also bring closure to these victims' families," Garriola said.
He said he would like to close some cases that gnaw at his gut, like the 2017 killing allegedly by Andres Zambrano of the mother of his 2-year-old son on the curb outside their L.A. apartment.
"[Zambrano] then took the baby and threw him on the street in broad daylight like a piece of trash," Garriola said.
Once a fugitive is located, the FBI seeks assistance from its Mexican counterparts in making an arrest.
The FBI is offering reward money in exchange for information that leads to an arrest.
Here are the FBI's allegations regarding the 12 fugitives:
Andres Zambrano, believed to be 28 and who has been known to use multiple aliases, is wanted for his alleged involvement in the murder of the mother of his (then) two-year-old child. On Mar. 16, 2017, Zambrano allegedly shot the victim in the street in front of her home in Los Angeles. Zambrano later stated that he would flee to Mexico or Chicago, Illinois, where he has ties. Further details regarding Zambrano can be found here.
Baldomero Barrientos Banuelos, believed to be 67 years of age, is wanted for his alleged involvement in the murder of his wife. On Oct. 14, 1993, Banuelos allegedly stabbed his wife to death in North Hollywood. Further details regarding Barrientos Banuelos can be found here.
Carlos Felino Hernandez, believed to be 36 years of age, is wanted for his alleged involvement in a murder and an attempted murder in 2006. On July 23, 2006, Hernandez allegedly attended a party in Pico Rivera, where he became engaged in a fight with another partygoer. Hernandez allegedly chased the man into the street and attempted to shoot him. When his weapon misfired, Hernandez allegedly turned and shot a different man, killing him instantly. Upon fleeing the scene, Hernandez allegedly fired several rounds into the crowd that had gathered by the victim. Further details regarding Hernandez can be found here.
Cesar Soltero Herrera, believed to be 31 years of age and known to use multiple aliases, is wanted for his alleged involvement in a murder and attempted murder in 2007. On February 19, 2007, in North Hollywood, Herrera became involved in a physical altercation with a male victim, when the victim struck Herrera and caused him to bleed from the nose. Herrera then allegedly left the scene but returned a short time later with a semi-automatic handgun and fired multiple shots at the male victim and others, killing the victim. Further details regarding Soltero-Herrera can be found here.
Cesar Villarreal, believed to be 46 years of age and known to use multiple aliases, is wanted for his alleged involvement in the shooting death of a man in California. On May 21, 2010, it is alleged that Villarreal, while at a store with his two young daughters, got in an argument with two men. During the argument, Villarreal allegedly pointed his gun at both men, who then fled the store. A short time later, Villarreal, while in his pickup truck without his daughters, found the two men a short distance from the store. Villarreal then allegedly shot both men, wounding one and killing the other. Further details regarding Villarreal can be found here.
Manuel Virgen-Galvan, believed to be between 37 and 39 years of age and known to use multiple aliases, is wanted for his alleged involvement in a murder in 2005. On June 29, 2005, Virgen-Galvan allegedly shot and killed a 14-year-old boy in front of the boy's Sylmar residence while the boy was painting a friend's bicycle. Further details regarding Galvan can be found here.
Steven Giovanni Aguilar-Medina, believed to be 26 and who has been known to use multiple aliases, and his girlfriend, Evelin Martinez, are wanted for their alleged involvement in a murder and attempted murder in 2009. On Dec. 28, 2009, Aguilar-Medina was allegedly driven to a rival gang area in Los Angeles by Martinez. Investigators allege that Martinez then stopped her van, and Aguilar-Medina exited the vehicle and approached two individuals standing outside a home. Aguilar-Medina then allegedly shouted a gang term before firing multiple shots at the two individuals, killing one. Further details regarding Aguilar-Medina can be found here and regarding Martinez can be found here.
Saul Aguilar Jr., believed to be 48 years of age and who has been known to use multiple aliases, is wanted for his alleged involvement in the murder of his ex-girlfriend in Los Angeles. In Dec. of 1997, the victim was found in her home with a shotgun wound to her upper torso. Further details regarding Aguilar Jr. can be found here.
Carlos Vasquez Serrano, believed to be 48 years of age, is wanted for his involvement in a 2006 murder. On Feb. 1, 2006, Serrano allegedly murdered a man in a bar in Los Angeles. After the alleged murder, Serrano allegedly broke into the bar's office and stole the bar's video recording equipment. Then, Serrano allegedly kidnapped a woman and fled to Mexico with her. Further details regarding Vasquez Serrano can be found here.
Ricardo Villa, believed to be 35 years of age, is wanted for his alleged involvement in an attempted murder (4 counts), among other charges, in Hollywood on Apr. 26, 2015. Villa allegedly shot into a vehicle parked outside of a club after a dispute inside the club. Villa was free on bail for an earlier narcotics arrest in Orange County. Further details regarding Ricardo Villa can be found here.
Xochitl (Sochill) Aurora De La Torre, believed to be 40 and known to use multiple aliases, is wanted for her alleged involvement in the murder of a man on Sept. 10, 2004, in Los Angeles. De La Torre has ties to Mexico and Murrieta, California. Further details regarding Delatorre can be found here.