Real Name: Agustin Vasquez Mendoza
Wanted For: Drug-Trafficking, Murder
Missing Since: June 30, 1994
Details: Agustin Mendoza was at the center of a Phoenix, Arizona drug operation which thirty-seven-year-old DEA agent Richard Fass was investigating. Fass was working undercover to arrest Mendoza when things went awry. On June 30, 1994, after more than eight years of undercover work, Fass was leaving the streets, promoted to an administrative position. His colleagues had a special luncheon to congratulate him and say goodbye. After the luncheon ended at 2PM, Richard and his partner, Agent Michael Pelonero, went to an automotive repair shop in Phoenix for one final undercover assignment.
They posed as drug buyers and were carrying $160,000 in cash for a deal that Richard had set up the day earlier with Agustin Vasquez-Mendoza, or "Fernando". Fernando agreed to sell him twenty-two pounds of meth. Pelonero stayed behind while Fass went into the garage at 6:25PM. Inside he met a confidential informant and Juan Vasquez, an associate of Fernando's. Fernando, however, was not present. In the back were two men: another informant, and another Fernando associate, Rafael Rubio.
Vasquez went out to Fass's car where Pelonero showed him the money. At 6:30PM, Vasquez apparently called Fernando to tell him that the deal was good. At 6:32PM, Pelonero told all units that the deal was going down. Then, at 6:35PM, the deal went bad when Vasquez and Rubio forced Fass and the two informants into a back room, demanding both the drugs and the cash. As the men tried to handcuff Fass, he reacted by shooting at Rubio. Vasquez retaliated by shooting Fass several times before they both fled. Pelonero called for backup and then went into the garage to find Fass on the floor; he would die within an hour.
Within minutes, agents were in pursuit of Rubio. At 6:45PM, Vasquez was arrested by agents near the crime scene. At 6:52PM, Rubio is also arrested by agents. Both were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. However, Agustin Vasquez-Mendoza vanished and is still on the run. Investigators believe that he masterminded the rip-off. A $50,000 reward is being offered in this case.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 25, 1996 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Captured. In July of 2000, Agustin Mendoza was arrested in Mexico. However, due to a legal battle with the Mexican Supreme Court, he was not extradited to the United States until January of 2005, five years later. Mendoza was convicted of murder and is now serving a seventy-year prison sentence. Vasquez and Rubio are currently serving life sentences for their roles in the murder.
- Agustin Vasquez Mendoza on Wikipedia
- Mendoza on the FBI Website
- Slain agent’s family files $6 million suit against DEA
- U.S. posts $2.2 million reward for accused killer of drug agent
- Reward offered for help capturing Mexican fugitive
- Record reward posted for fugitive
- 1 of FBI's 'Most Wanted' captured in Mexico
- Mexico Arrests Suspect in Killing of DEA Agent
- Fugitive Sought in Slaying of U.S. Drug Agent Hid for Years in Shadowy Corners of Mexico
- Agustin Vasquez-Mendoza extradited to Arizona
- Mexican’s arraignment set in ‘94 killing of DEA agent
- Mastermind of 1994 Murder of DEA Agent Gets Life in Prison
- Drug War Cowboys
- Richard Fass at Officer Down Memorial Page