The FBI and Tacoma Police Department are seeking the public’s help in locating a fugitive whom investigators believe is responsible for murders in the Tacoma, Washington area. Santiago “Pucho” Villalba Mederos, 25, may be in Mexico and speaks both English and Spanish. Mederos is known to have family living in the Las Grutas, Guerrero, and Cuernavaca, Morelos areas of Mexico and also has ties to Washington State.
A reward of up to $20,000 is offered for information that leads to the arrest and extradition of Mederos.
Mederos is a member of the Eastside Lokotes Sureno (ELS) gang and is wanted for his alleged involvement in several crimes committed in 2010 in Tacoma, Washington. On February 7, 2010, Mederos purportedly took part in the planning and execution of retaliatory actions on rival gang members. While looking for potential targets, Mederos reportedly encountered two innocent victims, not involved in any gang activity, in their car stopped at a stoplight. Due solely to the color of their vehicle, the brother and sister victims were chased while in their vehicle and, when they stopped at another stoplight, Mederos allegedly fired multiple shots into the car, killing the 18-year-old girl and seriously wounding her brother. On December 3, 2010, the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office charged Mederos with Murder in the First Degree, Attempted Murder in the First Degree, Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the First Degree, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the Second Degree in the Superior Court of Washington and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Mederos was allegedly involved in violent criminal activity again on March 25, 2010, when he and other gang members purportedly went to collect money from a person they knew. According to investigators, Mederos and other gang members broke into and ransacked that person’s vehicle. Several innocent bystanders observed this situation and confronted the group. A fight ensued during which Mederos allegedly fired a single gunshot towards the bystanders, striking and killing an innocent 25-year-old male victim. On March 30, 2010, the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office charged Mederos with Murder in the Second Degree in the Superior Court of Washington and an additional warrant was issued for his arrest.
On September 30, 2016, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Mederos in the United States District Court, Western District of Washington, Tacoma, Washington, after he was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Tacoma Police Department is investigating the murders and other criminal activity. The FBI is assisting with the international investigation. The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed the charges as part of this collaborative effort to seek justice for the victims.