Ezequiel Godinez-Cervantes, 77, was arrested Wednesday in Mexicali by authorities acting on information from the FBI that he had crossed the border, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Godinez was handed over to U.S. authorities at the border and arraigned Thursday in federal court in El Centro. It was unclear whether he has a lawyer.
Godinez was wanted since last year for probation violations involving a 1997 federal court case in California, court records indicate. That case involved a previous prison-escape conviction, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Godinez, a Texas native, was a member of the now-defunct Guadalajara Cartel, Baja California state police indicated.
The cartel was implicated in the 1985 kidnapping, torture and killing of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena in Mexico. Witnesses implicated Godinez, although he was never charged with the killing, the Union-Tribune said.
The same witnesses implicated him in the 1984 kidnap-killings of four Jehovah's Witnesses as they sold religious books door-to-door in Mexico. But Godinez also wasn't charged in their deaths, the paper reported.
In the 1990s, he was charged with the 1985 slayings of two U.S. residents in Guadalajara. The men, one from Texas and the other from Minnesota, unwittingly entered a bar where drug traffickers were partying and were stabbed with ice picks and beaten to death.
Godinez was arrested in Texas in 1996, but the charges against him were dropped the next year.
Godinez also was convicted of federal drug trafficking charges in Texas in the 1990s.