FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Case # 04CF1972
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A fugitive was extradited from El Salvador and is scheduled to be arraigned today for murdering a man by shooting him through the heart in Tustin 15 years ago.
Defendant: Juan Palacios, 59
Charged on June 30, 2004, with the following:
- One felony count of murder
- Sentencing Enhancement: Personal use of a firearm
Minimum Sentence: 25 years to life in state prison
Arraignment on May 21, 2018, 10:00 a.m. at Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana
Circumstances of the Case
- On Jan. 5, 2003, Palacios is accused of escalating a financial dispute with 32-year-old Mario Cano Santamaria.
- Palacios is accused of shooting Santamaria through the heart in a courtyard in Tustin and fleeing the country.
- The Tustin Police Department (TPD) responded to the scene, investigated this case, and identified Palacios as a suspect.
Palacios was charged with murder by OCDA in 2004.
- The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) requested assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in locating Palacios, who had fled to El Salvador.
- Following the FBI’s confirmation of Palacios’ location, the OCDA, through the U.S. Department of Justice, sent a formal extradition request to El Salvador in 2014.
- In December 2016, Palacios was arrested in El Salvador. Pursuant to the extradition treaty between the United States and El Salvador, extradition was granted on March 16, 2018.
- On May 17, 2018, Palacios was surrendered by the authorities of El Salvador and returned by the FBI to the United States.
The OCDA thanks and commends the diligent investigation of TPD and the FBI, whose persistence resulted in a fugitive homicide suspect being returned to Orange County after 15 years. We would also like to thank Interpol, the United States Department of Justice, the Department of State, and our law enforcement partners in El Salvador for their excellent assistance, which allowed this extradition to occur.
Prosecutor: Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker, Homicide Unit.