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$100,000 reward offered for Tacoma fugitive accused of 2 murders

Santiago Villalba Mederos is seen in 2009 (left) and 2005. (FBI photo)

TACOMA, Wash. - A $100,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to the capture of a double murder suspect and gang member who has been on the run since the 2010 killngs in Tacoma, the FBI says.

Santiago Villalba Mederos, a member of the violent Eastside Lokotes Sureno gang, also was named this week to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, law enforcement officials said.

According to the FBI, Mederos is wanted in connection with two separate shootings in Tacoma that resulted in the death of a young woman and the serious wounding of her brother, and a month later, the murder of a young man. Mederos was a teenager at the time of the killings.

"To have committed two homicides at such a young age shows how violent he was and how violent the gang was," said Special Agent Terry Postma from the FBI’s Seattle Division. "The younger gang members tried to earn respect from the older guys by these extreme acts of violence."

In February 2010, Mederos - who goes by the nickname "Pucho" - allegedly fired multiple shots into a random car, killing a 20-year-old woman and wounding her brother.

The following month, during a robbery that turned into a fight when bystanders became involved, Mederos allegedly fired a single gunshot toward the group, striking and killing a 21-year-old innocent bystander, the FBI says.

"In both the cases he’s wanted for, none of the victims had anything to do with gangs,” said Steve Reopelle, a homicide detective with the Tacoma Police Department who has investigated both murders.

Based on witness reports, it is believed that Mederos, who was 19 years old at the time, fled to Mexico after the murders. He may have returned to the U.S. since 2010, which is why investigators are looking for the public’s assistance in both countries.

Mederos is charged with first- and second-degree murder in Washington state, and he also faces a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

FBI officials hope that naming Mederos to the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list and increasing the reward to as much as $100,000 will focus much wider exposure and public attention to his case.

“We believe there are a lot of people that have information on his whereabouts,” Reopelle said. “The reward will be a great incentive for someone to come forward. Mederos has been on the run for a long time. We need the public’s help to apprehend him.”

Postma called Mederos "extremely dangerous and a threat to the community, wherever he is."

Mederos, now 26 years old, speaks English and Spanish. He is known to have ties to the states of Guerrero and Morelos in Mexico, FBI officials said. He also has ties to Washington state.

He is approximately 5-feet-10-inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. He has black hair, brown eyes, and distinguishing tattoos: the letter “S” on his left shoulder and the letter “E” on his right shoulder.

Anyone with information concerning Mederos should take no action themselves, but instead immediately contact the nearest FBI office or local law enforcement agency.

For possible sightings outside the United States, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

The FBI’s Seattle Field Office can be reached at 206-622-0460. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City can be reached at 011-52-55-5080-2000. Tips can also be submitted at 1-800-CALL FBI or online at tips.fbi.gov.

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