Man on the Run for 12 Years From Murder Charges Hid Out in Mendocino Growing Marijuana

RICARDO PUENTAS, Jr

RICARDO PUENTES, Jr photo from about 12 years ago.

About 7 a.m. Wednesday near Redding, the FBI, Santa Rosa detectives, Shasta County SWAT and Sheriff’s deputies surrounded the home of Ricardo Puentes, Jr. The man was a suspect in a 2005 execution style slaying that occurred in a Santa Rosa apartment.

Allegedly Puentes had supported himself over his years on the run by growing marijuana in northern Mendocino near Leggett not far from the Humboldt County line.

According to the Press Democrat,

After daybreak, with the SWAT team surrounding the residence, sheriff’s officials called out to Puentes through an open window. Realizing he was surrounded Puentes picked up his baby boy and stood in a window, Ludtke said.

“He was refusing to come out. It was kind of a hostage situation for a little bit,” Ludtke said.

Negotiations lasted about 10 minutes before Puentes came out, handed the baby to an officer and was arrested.

Just recently, Puentes, his girlfriend, their infant son, and her two children moved near Redding from their rural home south of Leggett. In northern Mendocino, Puentes was known as Tony. But in 2005, Puentes is believed to have been a member of the Norteño street gang who killed 27-year-old Semere Girmai in what was believed to be dispute about drugs and territory.

According to the FBI,

On January 15, 2005, Puentes, Jr. and two other suspects allegedly knocked on the door of an apartment in Santa Rosa. When a female resident opened the door to allow the three suspects inside, Puentes, Jr. allegedly pulled out a handgun and began shooting. One victim was shot and killed and a second was wounded before the suspects fled.

Puentes disappeared. He is rumored to have made occasional trips back to Santa Rosa to visit family. He has been in northern Mendocino at least four years but possibly a great deal longer. He told one friend he had come to the area as a kid but that has not been confirmed.

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