Third Fugitive Extradited from El Salvador to the United States to Face Federal Robbery and Felony Murder Charges in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE—Francisco Melgar-Cabrera, also known as Francisco Malgar-Cabrera, 30, a Salvadoran national, was extradited from El Salvador to the United States on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Melgar-Cabrera was previously indicted by a District of New Mexico grand jury on October 14, 2010, on multiple charges, including federal robbery and felony murder stemming from an armed robbery and murder in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in June 2009.
Damon P. Martinez, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico; Special Agent in Charge Bernard J. Zapor of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and Special Agent Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, made the announcement.
Melgar-Cabrera, who is charged with multiple counts, including federal robbery and felony murder charges, faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted. Melgar-Cabrera will make his initial appearance this morning in the U.S. District Court in Albuquerque and be arraigned on the charges against him.
Melgar-Cabrera and co-defendants Marvin Aguilar-Lopez and Pablo De Leon Ortiz, both Salvadoran nationals, were indicted in October 2009 and charged with armed robbery, felony murder, and firearms offenses. The nine-count indictment stemmed from the armed robbery of a Denny’s Restaurant located at 1602 Coors Blvd. NW in Albuquerque on June 20, 2009, and the murder of Stephanie Anderson, a cook at the restaurant.
In April 2010, a 10-count superseding indictment was filed adding Melgar-Cabrera’s brother, Jose “Tito” Humberto Melgar-Cabrera, also a Salvadoran national, as a defendant. Jose Melgar-Cabrera was charged as an accessory after the fact for assisting Melgar-Cabrera to avoid apprehension. A 14-count second superseding indictment, filed in October 2010, added four new robbery and firearms offenses against Melgar-Cabrera, Aguilar-Lopez, and De Leon Ortiz. The new charges arose out of the armed robbery of a Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon located at 10019 Coors Blvd. NW in Albuquerque on June 13, 2009.
Aguilar-Lopez and De Leon Ortiz each have entered guilty pleas to armed robbery and felony murder charges. Aguilar-Lopez was sentenced to 40 years in prison and De Leon Ortiz was sentenced to a 35-year term of imprisonment. Jose Melgar-Cabrera pled guilty to being an accessory after the fact and is serving a 48-month term of imprisonment. Each of the three men will be deported after completing his term of incarceration.
Melgar-Cabrera fled to El Salvador where he was arrested on September 14, 2013, by Salvadoran law enforcement authorities on a provisional arrest warrant for his extradition. He was apprehended by an elite Salvadoran investigative unit known as the Transnational Anti-Gang (TAG) Task Force. The TAG is composed of specially trained Salvadoran National Police investigators who work closely with the FBI on transnational investigations.
“The extradition of Francisco Melgar-Cabrera brings a fugitive to justice as we continue to enhance the federal law enforcement community’s partnership with El Salvador,” said Damon P. Martinez, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. “This extradition is an example of the United States’ continued efforts to work with our partners around the world to make sure criminals cannot find safe haven from justice.”
“I am extremely proud of the work of this office and our law enforcement partners. I would like to recognize the investigative efforts of ATF special agents who for years doggedly pursued Melgar-Cabrera for his alleged role in the 2009 murder of Stephanie Anderson. I hope his extradition back to face justice brings some peace to Stephanie’s family,” stated Special Agent in Charge Bernard J. Zapor of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. “ATF is committed to working with our law enforcement partners—at home and around the world—to take violent criminals off the streets and bring them to justice.”
“Justice, like the grief of a family who lost a young woman in the prime of her life, transcends international boundaries. The governments and law enforcement agencies of the United States and El Salvador proved that by working together to bring this suspect back home, where his long-awaited trial will hopefully give Stephanie Anderson’s loved ones some closure,” said Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI. “I want to recognize the work of the FBI special agents and other staff in this case, particularly FBI Legal Attaché in San Salvador, as well as the U.S. Department of State; U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs; U.S. Attorney’s Office; the FBI’s Transnational Anti-Gang Task Force; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Government of El Salvador; and the Albuquerque Police Department.”
The charges in the second superseding indictment against Melgar-Cabrera are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The criminal case was investigated by the Albuquerque Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Albuquerque Division of the FBI; and the Albuquerque Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Louis E. Valencia and Presiliano A. Torrez of the District of New Mexico.
The extradition of Melgar-Cabrera is the result of close cooperation between the ATF, FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Salvadoran law enforcement authorities. The United States law enforcement partners involved in the investigation and prosecution of Melgar-Cabrera praised the outstanding efforts of the Salvadoran National Police for their assistance in bringing this fugitive to justice. The Acting U.S. Attorney, Damon P. Martinez, also thanked the ATF’s Country Attaché in El Salvador, the FBI’s Legal Attaché office in El Salvador, the Government of El Salvador, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.