In the last week of 2022, just before the new year began, the list of the ten most wanted fugitives by the FBI changed.
Rafael Caro-Quintero, head of a Mexican cartel who was captured last July in Mexico, escaped from a prison near the border with the United States. The FBI didn't have time to update his photo on the list again and remove the "captured" caption added after his capture.
The 70-year-old, Caro-Quintero head of Los Mexicanos, escaped from prison two weeks ago after a group of gunmen in armored vehicles opened fire outside the institution. 17 people were killed in the incident, including ten guards - and it is considered one of the deadliest in recent times.
Authorities in the state of Chihuahua warned that the fugitives belong to one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in Juarez - the Los Mexicanos gang - which is linked to the Caborca cartel, which was also formerly led by Caro-Quintero.
Caro-Quintero has been involved in drug trafficking for more than 40 years. In 1985, the drug lord ordered the kidnapping and murder of several people, including an agent of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. After the murders, he fled to Costa Rica until he was arrested. He served 28 years in prison before being released in 2013.
Under the administration of President Barack Obama, an arrest warrant was issued for Caro-Quintero and his name was added to Interpol's most wanted list. The United States offered the highest reward: $20 million for information leading to his arrest. In July 2022, he was arrested in Mexico in an operation in which 14 people were killed. Two weeks ago, he managed to escape again.
How is the list of the ten most wanted fugitives compiled?
When one of the top fugitives on the list dies or is captured, FBI headquarters scours its 56 local offices for a replacement. After that, a special committee decides who are the most dangerous candidates for the company out of all the branches. In addition, the committee is examining how well putting a certain candidate on the list and making his identity public would help the FBI capture him.
The list is not limited to ten wanted people and is sometimes shorter or longer. Beyond the top ten, the rest of the fugitives who are added to the list are called "special additions". For example, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who planned the attack on the World Trade Center in New York in 1993, is considered such an addition. Fugitives are not always put on the list immediately after the crime is committed. For example, Osama bin Laden was put on the list in June 1999, almost a year after the bombing of the United States embassy in Kenya.
The FBI does not define specific crimes that qualify for the list, but experts say it almost always contains a combination of a cop killer, drug dealer, sex offender, serial killer and wanted fugitive, a man who murdered his entire family, mob boss and bandits of all kinds.
Because citizens sometimes need a financial incentive to do their duty, the FBI began offering rewards of up to $50,000 in 1997 for information about wanted individuals and in 2004 increased the amount to $100,000. There are exceptional criminals who are worth more - bin Laden was worth $27 million.
So who is on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted?
In July 2022, a Bulgarian national who was nicknamed the "Crypto Queen" after raising billions of dollars in a virtual currency scam, was placed on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted fugitive criminals list. This is only the 11th woman in history to be added to the infamous list of murderers and heads of criminal organizations.
The FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for Ruja Ignatova, who disappeared in Greece in October 2017 with approximately $4 billion, at the same time that an arrest warrant is issued and an indictment filed against her in the United States.
The 42-year-old, who also holds German citizenship, is behind one of the most infamous pyramid scams in the cryptocurrency world, the sheer scale of which can only be compared to Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. On May 11, Interpol also announced that it had added her to its wanted list and offered a reward of about $5,000 to anyone who would prove information about her location.
Michael James Pratt (captured)
Just before the end of 2022, on December 23, the Spanish police arrested a wanted man named Michael James Pratt, while he was staying in a hotel in Madrid under a false identity. It was the first time an FBI-wanted man was arrested in Spain.
Pratt has been considered a fugitive since 2019 and was placed on the FBI's ten most wanted fugitives list in early 2022. Pratt, a New Zealand citizen, was sentenced to life in prison in the United States for sexual exploitation and assault and for producing images of child sexual assault.
According to the police, Pratt was involved in recruiting minors and young women through fraud in order to film pornographic tapes and upload them to networks between 2012 and 2019. He also held some of the victims against their will and forced them to have sex. Pratt earned more than 17 million dollars during this period.
Yulan Adonay Archaga Carias
Yulan Adonay Archaga Carias, 39, the leader of the Honduran MS-13 gang, known as "Purkey," was charged in the Southern District of New York with conspiracy to commit racketeering, possession of a weapon and conspiracy to import cocaine. "He assisted in the transportation of tons of cocaine from Honduras to the United States, as well as in the possession of weapons that were used by members of the gang in its drug trafficking activities."
He is also responsible for ordering and the involvement in the murder of several rival gang members. In august 2018, he was convicted in a Honduran court and sentenced to a long prison term, but Archaga Carias managed to escape in February 202 after gunmen broke into the court. Several policemen were killed in the attack. According to information, Archaga Carias is still in Honduras and the reward for information about him is $100,000.
Alexis Flores is wanted for the kidnapping and murder of five-year-old Ariana DeJosos in Philadelphia in 2000. The girl disappeared from her home and was found lifeless about a month later in Flores' apartment.
Flores has extensive connections in Central and South America and according to information, that is where he fled. The FBI is offering $100,000 for information leading to his capture.
Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel
Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel is an Indian national wanted for killing his wife at the Dunkin Donuts store where they both worked in Hanover, Maryland on April 25, 2015.
He was added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List on April 18, 2017, and was last seen at the Pennsylvania Station near his hotel in Newark, New Jersey.
Alejandro Rosales Castillo was added to the FBI's Top Ten Fugitives List on October 24, 2017. He is wanted for the murder of Truc Kwan "Sandy" Lee in Charlotte, North Caroline in August 2016.
The two met while working together at a restaurant and later began a relationship. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to his capture.
Arnoldo Jimenez was added to the list on May 8, 2019. He is wanted for the May 2012 murder of his wide Estrella Carrera, who was found dead in the bathtub of her Illinois apartment, just hours after their wedding.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to his capture.
Omar Alexander Cardenas
Omar Alexander Cardenas is wanted for his involvement in the August 2019 murder of a man in an open mall in Sylmar, California, not far from Los Angeles. He shot the man in the head with a semi-automatic weapon and killed him.
A local arrest warrant was issued against him in August 2020 in a Los Angeles County court, where he was charged with murder. A federal arrest warrant was issued for Cardenas in September 2021, after he was charged with an illegal escape to avoid prosecution. The FBI warns that he is armed and dangerous.
Jose Rodolfo Villarreal-Hernandez
The FBI is offering a $1 million reward for information on the whereabouts of Jose Rodolfo Villarreal-Hernandez.
Villarreal-Hernandez, also known as "El Gato" (meaning "The Cat"), is wanted for his involvement in cross-state menacing harassment and conspiracy to commit the murder-for-hire of a 43-year-old man in May 2013 in Texas. He is also one of the leaders of the Beltran Leyva drug trafficking cartel from Mexico and is considered armed and dangerous.