Capture ended one of the longest escape investigations in Texas history
Houston, TX – Members of the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Violent Offender and Fugitive Task Force escorted an international fugitive back to the United States today following his extradition from Mexico.
Juan Jose Salaz was wanted for escaping a Texas prison 17 years ago. Mexican federal agents arrested him in Mexico in January 2013. He was extradited to the United States today, where he will serve the remainder of his multiple sentences. He is currently being held in the Harris County Jail.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Office of Inspector General and members of the GCVOFTF, worked jointly with the U.S. Marshals on this case.
“This capture and extradition closes an important fugitive case that took extensive international coordination and determination by our task force investigators,” said Gary Blankinship, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Texas. “Justice will finally be served.”
Salaz escaped from the recreation yard of the TDCJ – Garza East Prison in Beeville March 22, 1997. He climbed over three 16-feet razor-wired security fences, launching one of the longest prison escape investigations in Texas history.
At the time of the escape, Salaz was serving three concurrent 35-year sentences for aggravated kidnapping with a deadly weapon and two counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer. Police records show Salaz and an accomplice abducted a man at gunpoint April 2, 1995, and demanded a ransom. Houston police undercover officers arranged for the exchange. Once the abducted man was freed, they identified themselves as police and Salaz and his accomplice opened fire. A police sergeant was hit in the chest, but was saved by his ballistic vest. Salaz was seriously wounded when police returned fire, but he recovered from his injuries and subsequently pleaded guilty. His accomplice was arrested and is serving a life sentence.
"The capture and return of offender Salaz to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice bring to close a 17-year endeavor for the Office of the Inspector General,” said Inspector General Bruce Toney, Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “During this time, the OIG never retreated from the pursuit or lost sight of the goal to bring Salaz back to Texas to serve his sentence. I would like to thank the efforts of the United States Marshals, who worked diligently with the OIG to see justice served. The cooperative working relationship shared between the United States Marshals and OIG cannot be over emphasized.”