DENVER – Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan, and Lafayette Police Chief Paul Schultz announced today the arrest of Ramon Villalobos for the first degree murder of Thomas Avalos on August 30, 1987.
The murder took place outside DJ’s Bar in Lafayette after the two men argued over a dice game. Villalobos was apprehended by Mexican federal agents on February 25, 2004 in Chihuahua, Mexico and will be tried by a Mexican court. If convicted, Villalobos could face decades in a Mexican federal prison.
The Boulder District Attorney’s Office charged Villalobos with first degree murder on September 8, 1987, but Villalobos had fled to Mexico. The Colorado Attorney General’s office subsequently filed an “Article IV foreign prosecution” case with the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduria General de la Republica) on November 29, 2004, and an arrest warrant was issued for Villalobos on January 14, 2004.
“This is a great success for Colorado law enforcement and sends the message to criminals that if you commit murder in Colorado, we will find you even if you flee to another country,” said Suthers. “I look forward to seeing Mr. Villalobos brought to justice and hope it will provide the Avalos family with some comfort.”
“The Lafayette Police Department was committed to locating and arresting the suspect in this case. Through extraordinary teamwork with several different law enforcement agencies that has been accomplished, and Mr. Villalobos will be held accountable for the murder he committed 17 years ago,” said Schultz.
"We would like to thank the Mexican government and the Colorado Attorney General's Office, in particular Foreign Prosecution Unit Investigator LuzMaria Shearer, for their invaluable support and assistance in seeing that the perpetrator of this long unresolved murder will finally be brought to justice,” said Keenan.
The Villalobos arrest is the fifth for the Federal Prosecutions Unit of the Colorado Attorney General’s office since 2001.
Through an agreement with the United States Government, Article IV of the Mexican Federal Penal Code provides that Mexico has the authority to prosecute certain crimes committed in the United States by Mexican nationals if the suspect is presently living in Mexico. Under Article IV, the U.S. Department of Justice or the State Attorney General on behalf of the local prosecutor must file the case with the Mexican government. In Colorado, four of the five arrests have resulted in convictions and sentences ranging from 20-25 years. The fifth case is still pending a judge’s ruling. In addition, the Foreign Prosecution Unit has filed eight other cases since 2001 that are pending arrests, bringing the total number of cases filed in Mexico by Colorado to fourteen.