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VENTURA COUNTY'S MOST WANTED FUGITIVES; WARRANTS DETAIL GETS ITS MAN - OFTEN;.

Byline: Cecilia Chan Staff Writer

Hector Hernandez shot two brothers in downtown Moorpark following a fight earlier in the day, police say.

Marwan Elshamy is accused of threatening a woman in Simi Valley with a rifle and demanding money.

And Golan Ohayon and Asaf Cohen are wanted on suspicion of beating a man, threatening him with guns and a buck knife, then kidnapping him from a Thousand Oaks motel in an attempt to extort money from his brother.

What these suspects have in common is they are all fugitives from the law.

They and 88,613 others logged in the Criminal Justice Information System are being tracked by the Ventura County Sheriff's Department's three-member warrants detail.

``Some of them are rarely at the address on the warrants,'' said Detective Brian Worthan, who heads the detail. ``Most of them are unemployed. They've just been released from jail or prison. They have no address, they don't have a vehicle, no property.

``It's not like you or I who have property and things that can be traced,'' he said. ``They are hard to pin down. They are very elusive.''

The warrants run the gamut from murder to violating probation.

Of the 88,617 warrants, 2,640 are for felonies, and the remainder are misdemeanors, Worthan said. Because of the heavy workload, the detectives focus on felonies.

From Jan. 1 to July 31, the Ventura County court system issued 9,557 warrants, of which 1,073 were for felonies, he said. The unit receives an average of 2,500 felony and misdemeanor warrants a month.

During the same period, the warrant detail made 132 arrests - 88 men and 44 women - and cleared a total of 434 warrants.

Their job calls for them to keep warrants active in the system to ensure they are enforceable. Law enforcement agencies must be able to show that efforts were made to notify a suspect three years after a felony warrant's issuance.

``We cleared 240 (warrants) by locating people over the phone,'' Worthan said. ``We could spend a couple hours on the phone or weeks on the phone.

``We will use phone books, reports we have on file with our agency and other agencies to glean information and contact other resources, friends, employers and actually go to locations and attempt to get information and locate them there.''

Although telephones are the most effective tool, anonymous tips aid in nabbing fugitives, said Sgt. Ken Bailey of the county Special Services unit in Ventura.

Tipsters call into the Ventura County Crime Stoppers program, which features a weekly lineup of fugitives and up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

``That is a tremendous asset,'' said senior Deputy Al Weigand. ``There are a tremendous amount of tips.''

Weigand single-handedly mans the warrants extradition unit, bringing criminals to justice who are captured in another county or state. The county District Attorney's Office determines which criminals are to be extradited, and that information is entered into a national computer system.

Last year, 90 felony extraditions were completed, and this year should end with 120, Weigand said. He estimates he works an average of 10 extraditions a month.

``You do get those who go to New York, Florida and New Jersey,'' he said. ``Name it, and I've been there. These guys go everywhere.

``A lot of time they go back to where there is a relative or something, and it's a matter of them doing something and getting caught.''

A good example is a case he worked on last year that involved a fugitive who moved to another state, where he worked for a computer company, Weigand said. The suspect was careful not to leave any clues, even using taxis rather than renting cars on business trips, he said.

But on one business trip to White Plains, N.Y., the suspect rented a car and parked it in front of the hotel, where it was stolen. Police found the car, which led them to the man, who was asleep in the hotel, he said.

Weigand said some fugitives mistakenly believe once they leave California they are out of the law's grasp. However, they get caught if they apply for a driver's license or register a car in their own name and an agent happens to scan that state's records.

Not only does Weigand have to juggle his cases, but he helps outside agencies with their fugitives in Ventura County.

Weigand said it's hard to determine how long fugitives are on the loose before they are caught.

``Some are gone for years,'' he said. ``We've gone and got some people who have been loose for three to five years.''

Worthan said the oldest warrant in the system is from the mid-'60s, for a probation violation.

Although Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley rank regularly among the safest cities in the nation, they have their share of criminals to deal with.

Police are still looking for Jesus Gonzalez-Guzman, 36, of Thousand Oaks, who is suspected in the June 26 stabbing death of Antonio Gonzales in front of a house on Avenida de los Arboles in Thousand Oaks.

``We're not sure what set it off. It might be bad blood between the two and it erupted into a physical altercation with Jesus attacking Antonio repeatedly,'' said sheriff's Capt. Arve Wells.

``There are no leads, but we believe he may be in Mexico, and we are pursuing that,'' he said.

Wells said they also are looking for Pablo Figueroa Rojas, 48, who witnessed the incident and may have been injured while attempting to subdue Gonzalez-Guzman.

``We have yet to locate him and would like to talk to him,'' Wells said. ``He's not wanted for the incident.''

Police also want to locate Tomas Alfonzo Gamez, 23, suspected in the 1997 rape of a 14-year-old girl he accosted in a Thousand Oaks park.

And Juan Francisco Morales, 26, is being sought in a 1998 robbery of a pizzeria in Thousand Oaks. The robber held the manager at gunpoint and fled the scene with money and checks from the safe.

One more fugitive in Ventura County is Silvestre Mondragon Meza, 30, who was on trial for attempted murder in 1994 when he escaped from a temporary holding area during a break.

Additionally, Charles Long, 54, is being sought for failing to appear for sentencing after he was convicted of drunk driving in 1995. Long has a history of DUI convictions and is facing a substantial state prison sentence.

Sometimes the identity of a suspect is unknown, such as the serial rapist being sought by Simi Valley police. Authorities say the suspect has attacked nine women, with the most recent attack occurring in May.

``We would like anybody with information to call Crime Stoppers and pass it on,'' said police Sgt. Bob Gardner. ``We have some very good physical evidence that will positively identify the person.

``We just have to find the person to match it to.''

Anyone with information about these suspects can call Crime Stoppers at (805) 385-TALK or (805) 494-TALK.

CAPTION(S):

5 photos

Photo: (1 -- color) Tomas Alfonzo Gamez, 23

Charged with rape

Latino

5-foot-6, 160 pounds

Black hair, brown eyes.

Last known address was in Thousand Oaks.

(2) Jesus Gonzalez-Guzman, 36

Charged with murder

Latino

6 feet, 180 pounds

Black hair, brown eyes.

Last known address was in Thousand Oaks.

(3 -- color) Charles Long, 54

Wanted for multiple DUIs

White

6 feet, 165 pounds

Blond hair, blue eyes

Last known address was in Westlake Village.

(4 -- color) Silvestre Mondragon Meza, 30

Charged with attempted murder

Latino

5-foot-5, 120 pounds

Brown hair, brown eyes.

Last known address was in Camarillo.

(5 -- color) Juan Francisco Morales, 26

Charged with armed robbery

Latino

5-foot-7, 140 pounds

Black hair, brown eyes.

Last known address was in Thousand Oaks.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 7, 1999
Words:1297
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