The FBI confirmed on Saturday morning that after a four year manhunt it has captured one of the bureau’s 10 Most Wanted criminals, who was sought in connection with a brutal 2011 murder in New Jersey.
Walter Yovany Gomez, whom the FBI refers to as a New Jersey gang member, was apprehended in Woodbridge, Virginia by local law enforcement.
Gomez was wanted in connection with his alleged involvement in the murder of Julio Matute in Plainfield, New Jersey in May 2011. The murder was allegedly part of an initiation into the international criminal gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).
The FBI said that Gomez was arrested without incident. The bureau is crediting public assistance for his apprehension.
"The apprehension of Walter Yovany Gomez is a prime example of the close coordination between the public and law enforcement,” Agent Michael Whitaker told ABC News on Saturday. “Gomez will now stand trial for his alleged involvement for a brutal murder, which took a young man from his family. The FBI thanks the public for its continued vigilance."
Gomez is being held in Virginia while he awaits extradition to New Jersey, where he was indicted. He is a citizen of Honduras, and was in the U.S. illegally. His age is unclear.
The FBI added Gomez to its Most Wanted list in April in connection with the murder of Matute on May 8, 2011. Matute was believed to have been socializing with a rival gang, and was ordered killed by MS-13 leaders, according to the FBI. He was struck in the head numerous times with a baseball bat, had his throat cut, and was stabbed 17 times in the back with a screwdriver, the FBI says.
The bureau alleges that after a night of socializing with Matute, it was Gomez and another gang member who attacked him. The co-conspirator was subsequently apprehended, charged, and found guilty of homicide, according to the FBI.
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Gomez in the United States District Court, District of New Jersey on September 19, 2013, after he was charged with violent crime in aid of racketeering.
Since taking office, the Trump administration has highlighted the fight against MS-13. Trump traveled to Long Island in July, where MS-13 has been connected to a string of violent murders, to speak out against the gang. In a speech, Trump said the gang has “transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields.” In April, Jeff Sessions traveled to Long Island where he vowed to take the group down and linked it to the administration’s broader policies on illegal immigration.
The FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives list was established in March 1950. Nearly 500 fugitives have been apprehended or located since, with 160 of them resulting from citizen cooperation. The FBI was offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to Gomez’s arrest.