Facebook Search Leads to LAPD's Most Wanted Fugitive

Facebook Search Leads to LAPD's Most Wanted Fugitive

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) found one of the city’s top wanted fugitives in a most unusual way: using Facebook. Even though Eduardo Rodriguez, accused of murdering four people in 2001, had been shown on America’s Most Wanted, he had eluded police for 11 years until last year, when the LAPD permitted Glendale police to lend a hand.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Glendale police investigator listed names of Rodriguez’s friends as well as fellow gang members in his computer. He found a woman in Riverside whose Facebook page had photos of someone appearing to be Rodriquez, photos of a man who appeared to be Rodriguez accompanied by a woman in Las Vegas, and one more photo with the same man and children at the Griffith Observatory.

Laura Vega, a deputy U.S. marshal, said that it took months, but police discovered the woman’s address and staked out the house, according to The Los Angeles Times. She added, “We just had surveillance until we saw his face and then we knew we were right.” On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., while a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department helicopter monitored the house, Rodriguez exited the house and got into his car. Vega stated that police allowed him to drive for a minute “so he couldn’t jump out and run back inside his house.” She continued, “He saw us and knew immediately what it was about. He didn’t even try to hide his identity. You could see that moment when he knew what it was about and just gave up.”

Rodriguez, according to the Times, told police he had used a pseudonym for five years; although his criminal record is listed under the Rodriguez name, his biological name is Juan Carlos Campos Gamino. Vega said that he had adopted a third name for use in Riverside.

Social media are becoming increasingly helpful for police across the country. However, according to Minnesota Public Radio, “When investigators want user information or access to material on Facebook, they have to send warrants to the company’s law enforcement compliance department in Palo Alto, California.”

Image: LAPD via Los Angeles Times