Federal police detained Jorge Alberto Lopez Orozco on a highway in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, Mexico's Attorney General's Office said Thursday. He was transported to the neighboring state of Michoacan and held on a U.S. extradition request.
Lopez Orozco, 33, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Rebecca Ramirez and her sons, aged 2 and 4, in Elmore County, Idaho. He was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list in March 2005.
There was no immediate information on whether U.S. prosecutors had agreed not to seek the death penalty against Lopez Orozco; Mexico refuses to extradite suspects who might face execution.
According to FBI reports, Lopez Orozco called Ramirez on July 30, 2002, and later picked her up along with her two sons at her father's house in Nyssa, Ore. Twelve days later, fishermen found the abandoned, burned-out shell of the car that Lopez Orozco had been driving near the Snake River in a remote area of Elmore County.
The charred remains of Ramirez and the two boys, Ricardo and Miguel, were inside. Investigators later determined they had been shot.
Law enforcement officials said Lopez Orozco and Ramirez had an on-again, off-again affair that was well known in the community. At the time of her death, Ramirez had five surviving children aged 7 to 17, the Idaho Statesman reported.
After the killings, Lopez Orozco fled to San Jose, Calif., with the help of family members, the FBI says.
Lopez Orozco's sister-in-law Maria Garcia was arrested in 2006 on charges of accessory to murder, while his brother remains at large and is being sought by the FBI.
Lopez Orozco's arrest came about two months after Mexican authorities captured another of the FBI's Most Wanted: reputed gang member Emigdio Preciado Jr., 39, who is suspected of severely wounding a Los Angeles sheriff's deputy with automatic weapons fire.