Feds arrest Monterey County inmates who escaped through hole in bathroom ceiling

Two Monterey County jail inmates who escaped through a 2-foot wide hole they cut in a bathroom ceiling, were captured by Customs and Border Patrol agents as they were crossing into the United States from Mexico, authorities said Wednesday. 

At a news conference, Monterey County Sheriff's Capt. John Thornburg said investigators received a tip that led them to Mexico. 

“Once we received that information we notified customs agency, and they were able to locate them trying to walk back into the country,” Thornburg said.

Two escaped inmates crawled through a hole less than two feet wide.

John Salazar, 20, and Santos Fonesca, 21, were arrested about midnight Tuesday while crossing into the country from Tijuana. It is not clear how the pair got to Mexico or why they were heading back into the United States. They had been on the lam since their escape on Sunday. 

"Everyone wants to know how they got from Salinas to Mexico," Thornburg said.

Both were originally charged with murder and gang enhancements. The Monterey Herald reported Salazar was arrested in July 2018 for the October 2017 shooting death of 20-year-old Jaime Martinez. He was also charged with attempted murder for the shooting of Martinez’s girlfriend, who survived.

Fonseca was arrested for the 2018 murders of Lorenso Acosta on June 2 last year and Ernesto Cruz at El Dorado Park in Salinas three days later, the Herald reported. Fonesca was already wanted for attempted robbery at the time of his arrest for the murders.

The pair was in jail awaiting trial when at 8:15 a.m. Sunday, they tunneled into a bathroom ceiling and escaped. 

On Tuesday, an employee at a Motel 6 in Marina called police to report that at least one of the suspects might be holed up in a room,

SWAT members surrounded the motel looking for Salazar. However, after an eight-hour standoff and a K9 search of the room, authorities did not find him.

“It all looked like we had mister Salazar in a motel room there. We got a warrant signed by a judge to go in and get him. Unfortunately last night, he wasn’t there,” said Capt. Thornburg.

Five hours after that, another tip placed the fugitives in Tijuana. Monterey investigators contacted the U.S. Border Patrol, and agents arrested both men as they tried to re-enter the country. Salazar and Fonseca were transported back to the same jail they had escaped from four days earlier.
“We’ve done at least three security improvements to that one particular housing unit. And before anyone asks, no they will not be housed in that housing unit. They’re going to a separate housing unit where they will be housed alone,” Thornburg said.

Both men will now face additional charges stemming from the break-out, authorities said. 

Thornburg said the inmates will be placed in a jail unit that is separate from the unit they escaped from. They will also be housed alone so they will not have contact with each other.

SWAT responds to a standoff in Monterey Co. that ended empty handed when an escaped inmate charged with murder was not in the motel room.