A local man has landed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for the first time in about three decades.
Santiago Mederos, 26, is a Tacoma gang member police have sought since he was charged in 2010 with killing two people in unrelated shootings.
“The victims who lost their lives in 2010 were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Jay Tabb, Jr. said Monday at a press conference at Tacoma police headquarters. “Despite having no connection to street gangs they were senselessly targeted by Mederos.”
In May, the FBI increased its reward for Mederos to $20,000. On Monday, Tabb announced the reward now is $100,000.
Investigators long have believed he fled to Mexico, where he has family.
“Unlawful flight to avoid prosecution is a federal offense,” Tabb said.
Mederos is one of seven people charged with the Feb. 7, 2010, death of 20-year-old Camille Love.
Pierce County prosecutors allege the group stole a van from Auburn and went looking for rival gang members in retaliation for a shooting two days earlier.
They spotted Love’s red car on Tacoma’s East Side after she and her brother, Josh Love, left a family dinner and headed toward a friend’s house.
Mederos and at least one other person opened fire after shooting Josh Love, then 19, a dirty look, according to court records. Camille Love died at the scene. Her brother was shot twice — once in the arm, once in the side — and survived.
Authorities said the gang members targeted the brother and sister because the car was red, the color of a rival gang, and Josh Love wore a red coat that day.
The Loves were not affiliated with a gang and were innocent victims, police said.
Five of the men charged in Love’s death are serving prison terms ranging from 12 to 75 years. Mederos and fellow suspect Richard Charles Sanchez are still on the run.
Both are charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and unlawful possession of a firearm.
The Love family was outspoken about their displeasure with the sentences and later sued the state Department of Corrections for not doing enough to supervise the felons later convicted in Love’s death.
“If I could, I would execute them myself because I don’t believe they should live another day,” father William Love said at the sentencing. “They have no idea of the suffering they’ve caused, and they just don’t care.”
Camille Love was an aspiring veterinary technician who took some time off after graduating from high school in Whidbey Island and was signing up for classes at Pierce College when she was killed.
Mederos and Sanchez also are charged with second-degree murder in the March 25, 2010, death of Saul Lucas-Alfonso, 25.
They were part of a group that ransacked a car in a South Tacoma alley because they believed the owner owed their gang money, prosecutors said.
Three men confronted the gang and a fight broke out. When Mederos’ side began losing, they made a dash for their car to leave and Mederos allegedly fired his gun once, hitting Lucas-Alfonso and killing him.
“I want the victims and the families and our community to know that we will not stop searching for Mederos until we can find and bring him to justice for the senseless and tragic deaths of Camille Love and... Lucas,” Tacoma police Chief Don Ramsdell said Monday.
Police believe Mederos and Sanchez skipped town after the second murder.
Two others were charged and convicted in the case.
Byron Alvarez was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. His wife, Leah, received a 16-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery.
Mederos is described as Hispanic, 5 feet 10 and 140 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He has a tattoo of the letter “S” on his left shoulder and the letter “E” on his right shoulder.
He has family living in the Las Grutas, Guerrero and Cuernavaca areas of Mexico and could be hiding out there.
Federal prosecutors issued a warrant for him in September 2016 for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
He is the first Seattle FBI office addition to the list in 30 years, Tabb said.
“When we named Darren Dee O’Neall to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in 1987 he was captured in a short four months,” Tabb said. O’Neall is a convicted rapist and serial killer.
The wanted poster has been printed in English and Spanish. The FBI is soliciting tips from the Spanish-speaking community in Tacoma as well as targeted communities in Mexico, Tabb said.
Tabb said once a suspect is added to the Ten Most Wanted list an arrest usually soon follows.
“The solve rate is very high,” Tabb said. “They don’t stay on the list very long.”
The list was created in 1950, has included 514 fugitives over the years and has led to 483 captures, according to the FBI’s website.
Until Monday, Washington has had nine fugitives featured on the Ten Most Wanted list.
Staff writer Craig Sailor contributed to this report.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653
Status of those charged in the shooting death of Camille Love:
Santiago Mederos, 26. Shooter. Charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Warrant issued in December 2010. Believed to be hiding in Mexico.
Richard Charles Sanchez, 28. Charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Warrant issued in December 2010. Believed to be hiding in Mexico.
Saul Mex, 25. Shooter. Convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to just over 35 years in prison.
Jarod Messer, 27. Driver. Convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to just over 35 years in prison.
Eduardo Sandoval, 28. Lookout. Convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit murder. Sentenced to more than 75 years in prison.
Dean Salavea, 30. Convicted of leading organized crime and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Time Time, 32. Convicted of leading organized crime and sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison.
Interesting facts about the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted:
▪ To make the list, a suspect must have a lengthy criminal record, be considered a “particularly dangerous menace to society” and be someone who could possibly be located with the public’s help.
▪ The public has helped with information leading to the capture of 161 fugitives.
▪ The shortest time someone appeared on the list was for two hours. That was Billy Austin Bryant in 1969. The longest was more than 32 years, held by Victor Manuel Gerena.
▪ The oldest person to make the list is William Bradford Bishop Jr., 77, who was added in 2014 and remains one of the most wanted.
▪ Ten women have made the list.