Arrest made in 2002 Escondido cold case after extradition

Posted at 3:32 PM, Jan 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-27 18:35:41-05

ESCONDIDO - After a lengthy extradition process, the suspect of a 2002 murder is now in custody.

Hector Mendieta, 35, was flown to the United States and delivered to Escondido Police officers, Escondido police Lt. Justin Murphy said Friday. Mendieta has been booked into Vista Detention Facility and charged with first-degree murder.

On Sept. 10, 2002, police said Mendieta engaged in a physical altercation with Bartolo Velador at Dee's Sports Tavern on N. Rose Street. During the fight, Mendieta reportedly stabbed Velador and fled the scene. 

Velador later died as a result of his injuries.

Escondido police said Mendieta fled to Mexico shortly after the incident.

Then in 2012, the department's cold case unit reopened the case, believing there was enough evidence to charge Mendieta with murder. A year later, the unit requested help from the U.S. Marshal's San Diego Fugitive Task Force to locate and arrest Mendieta.

Mendieta was found by the task force and arrested in Mexico in June 2016 by Mexican authorities. Following a lengthy extradition process, Mendieta was finally flown to the U.S.

The case is still being investigated. The Escondido Police ask anyone with information about the case to call 760-839-4463, or anonymous at 760-743-TIPS (8477).