Authorities on the Arizona border have identified a previously-deported, Mexican drug cartel member as the prime suspect in the 2008 dismemberment of two men. The suspect’s brother is considered a person of interest and has no legal status in the United States.
The revelation was made Monday in Casa Grande by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu during a news conference. According to Babeu, 43-year-old Fausto Negrete Olivez is the prime suspect in the gruesome murder of two men. The suspect is believed to have hacked the victims into pieces, disposed of the bodies and set their truck on fire
Negrete Olivez is a previously convicted drug trafficker with ties to a Mexican cartel who was in the country illegally at the time. He is now believed to be hiding in Mexico. Authorities are also looking for 48-year-old Dionicio Negrete Olivez.
The case dates back to 2008, a time before Babeu had become sheriff, but information and forensic science has allowed his department to move the case forward, he said. For more than eight years, the murder of 36-year Baltazar Lopez and Azran Cordova have left many unanswered questions. The case has since become known as the “Septic Tank Murders” after the remains of one of the victims were found in a waste receptacle.
According to Babeu, in April 2008, both men were traveling form Phoenix to Casa Grande to collect money but went missing at some point. While authorities have information that Lopez was involved in drug trafficking and ties to Mexican drug cartels, investigators found no connections between Cordova and organized crime.
Five days later, authorities recovered a burned out truck that the men had been using. After the discovery, the case went cold until January 2009 when authorities recovered the remains of a John Doe in a shallow grave in rural Pinal County. Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene after receiving reports of bones and a skull being visible.
The “Septic Tank Murders” moniker came in September 2014 when human remains were discovered during a cleaning in an unincorporated community called Colonia Del Sol. While cleaning the tank, the hose became clogged.
“It was clogged by a human skull that would not fit through the hose,” the sheriff said.
The remains from both the shallow grave and the septic tank both had “sharp force trauma” the sheriff said.
“An axe or a machete was used to literally sever part of the body and the heads,” he said. ”A gruesome murder, thinking they were going to dump these bodies.”