Ramon Salcido, accused of murder, spent his final days of freedom in an airless, dirt-floored room in a remote farming hamlet 1,200 miles from the U.S. border.

It was here, in his grandmother's brick-and-mortar house, that the former winery worker went into hiding after allegedly shooting and stabbing seven people - including his wife and two of his daughters in Sonoma County, Calif.And it was here that a flying squad of police and Mexican Army soldiers flushed Salcido into the open after midnight Wednesday, forcing him to flee north by bus toward the nearby town of Guasave, where he was apprehended at a drug checkpoint on the highway.

Eyewitnesses say four truckloads of police from the Mexico City procurator general's office, accompanied by soldiers, raided Orbabamoa on two occasions early Wednesday.

In both raids, the police and soldiers searched the homes of Salcido's kin, and in both raids they made arrests.

"The first time (at 1 a.m.) they took away the uncle," said Hilario Gutierrez, a local resident who watched the raids take place.

"The uncle" was Camilo Gutierrez Galvez, described as 50ish and a former son-in-law of Salcido's maternal grandmother, Jesus Armendariz, 74.

"The second time they came back was about two o'clock for the grandmother," said Gutierrez.

In the raids, the police searched the 7-by-12-foot, dirt-floored attachment to the grandmother's small home where Salcido lived during his two days of hiding here - and from where he is presumed to have fled when the soldiers arrived.

Salcido apparently was roused by the noise of the raid, slipped out of the shack in the confusion and headed through the wheat fields, orchards and brush toward the road.

Salcido is thought to have hidden in the brush until he could flag down an intercity bus headed north. He was apprehended at dawn at a roadblock at Guasave, 10 miles north.

The Bamoa railroad station is only about two miles from the center of the ramshackle town, and law-enforcement officials believe that Salcido may have walked across the Mexican border at Calexico, early last Saturday, boarded a train and made the 24-hour trip to his grandmother's at a time when all airports and main roads on both sides of the border were being closely watched.

Most people here say Salcido's relatives gave no clue they were hiding a mass-murder suspect.

"The grandmother and the uncle acted the same as always," Gutierrez said.