California Prisoners Who Escaped Through Prison Bathroom Ceiling Captured On Mexico Border

Santos Samuel Fonseca and Jonathan Salazar, who busted out of a Monterey County jail over the weekend, are both awaiting trial for murder charges.

By Dorian Geiger

Two California jail prisoners were arrested at the Mexico border and are back in police custody after leading authorities on a frantic manhunt that spanned a number of days.

Santos Samuel Fonseca, 21, and Jonathan Salazar, 20, who escaped through a prison bathroom ceiling at a Monterey County jail on Sunday, were arrested again on Wednesday, officials said. 

American customs agents arrested Fonseca and Salazar at the U.S.-Mexico border around midnight on Tuesday, CNN reported. Officials had received a tip that the pair had crossed the border and were hiding out in Tijuana, Mexico. They were detained by border agents after they tried crossing back into the U.S. on Tuesday. It’s unclear how they slipped into Mexico or why they had decided to leave. 

Salazar had previously been thought to have been hiding out at a Motel 6 in Marina, California, where hotel staff had reported seeing him on Tuesday, local station KPIX-TV reported. The tip led to a fruitless eight-hour standoff that ended  with police barging into an empty motel room thought to be occupied by the escaped jail inmate.

“We’ve searched the room and he is not here,” Captain John Thornburg told the CBS affiliate. “I’m confident nobody left the motel after we got here, so that time between them calling and us getting here he apparently did leave.”

Santos Fonseca Jonathan Salazar Ap 2

Police said the room’s television was still on and a waste bin had been dumped on a countertop, according to KPIX-TV. 

“We have a strong belief that he was here, OK, from the witness or the person that called, the interviews we conducted,” Thornburg said. “It’s disappointing, I mean we’ve been out here for hours, and you know, people are waiting and we’re trying to do everything we can to locate this person along with the other gentleman and take him into custody.”

However, Marina is about 460 miles north of Tijuana, so it’s unclear if either of the suspects had ever even been in the motel room given the new timeline of their arrest on the Mexican border.

Thornburg wasn’t immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

The two men allegedly made their jailbreak on Sunday morning by cutting a hole — roughly 22-by-8 inches wide — and slinking through the opening that led them past plumbing pipes and an interior wall, USA Today reported.

The hole supposedly wasn’t viewable on the jail’s surveillance cameras. Fonseca, and Salazar then booted open a hatch, which was hidden by construction due to jail renovations, hopped a construction fence, and escaped.

Salazar was arrested last summer, along with another teenager, after they were accused of shooting and killing 20-year-old Ortiz Martinez, USA Today reported. Martinez, who was shot while sitting in his vehicle, crashed into a barricade after being struck by gunfire. His 18-month-old son and girlfriend were in the vehicle when the shooting occurred. The man’s girlfriend was shot in the cheek but survived. Martinez’s son was reportedly unharmed. 

Fonseca is awaiting trial on two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of two men who were supposedly gunned down in June 2018. His girlfriend, Alexandra Romayor, was sentenced to 15 years to life for second-degree murder in connection to the fatal shootings, according to USA Today.

Authorities had previously offered a $5,000 cash reward for information leading to Fonseca and Salazar’s capture.

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