Russell Contreras, Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A convicted child killer who escaped from a New Mexico prison and was recently captured in Mexico had become an assassin for the hyper-violent Zetas cartel, authorities said Friday.
New Mexico Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler told reporters at a conference of governors of U.S. and Mexico border states in Albuquerque that Edward Salas was known to authorities as a "sicario" — a name commonly used to describe a cartel-hired hit man.
But it was unclear just how many assassinations —if any — he might have committed, Mexico officials said.
Salas, who was on the U.S. Marshals Service's most wanted list, was taken into custody Thursday in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, outside a convenience store after a four-year international manhunt, according to New Mexico and Mexico officials.
Salas escaped from Curry County Detention Center in Clovis in August 2008 with seven other inmates by creating a hole in a ceiling. He was later spotted in Texas and was on the run ever since.
At the time of his escape, Salas was serving a life sentence plus 56 years for his role in the murder of 10-year-old Carlos Perez on Sept. 5, 2005.
The boy was shot in the head while sleeping in his bedroom in the eastern New Mexico community of Clovis just one day before his 11th birthday. Authorities said Salas and three accomplices fired nine bullets into an apartment window.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said officials were working to extradite Salas back to New Mexico as quickly as possible, and praised Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Horacio Duarte Jaquez who helped track down Salas and 32-year-old Noe Torres, who was charged in the child's slaying but fled before trial.
"I asked Gov. Duarte for his help in bring this monsters to justice," said Martinez. "And he was happy to cooperate."
Torres was arrested by Mexican officials in January.
Duarte, who was in Albuquerque for the governors' border conference, said the capture of the two fugitive showed that U.S. and Mexican authorities are working closely together on a number of fronts.
Ask if Salas could face any murder charges in Mexico, Mexico officials said they didn't expect any possible criminal charges in Mexico would prevent Salas from being extradited soon to the U.S.
Salas currently is being held in a maximum security facility in Mexico City.
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras
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