FBI honors Española police for help in capturing longtime fugitive

New Mexico

ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – He was convicted of shooting a Denver police officer. Then he escaped and went on the run for more than four decades.

It turns out, the now 77-year-old fugitive has been hiding out in northern New Mexico. On Friday, the FBI honored the Española Police Department for their help in putting an end to this decades-long case.

“Chief, it gives me great pleasure to present the following award to you and your fine department,” said James Langenberg, Special Agent in charge of the Albuquerque FBI Division. He presented an award to Española Police Chief, Roger Jimenez on Friday.

Española Police Chief Roger Jimenez accepts an award from FBI Special Agent James Langenberg on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020.

Langenberg said it took a collaborated effort to capture and arrest 77-year-old Luis Archuleta, ending a more than 40-year-manhunt for the fugitive. “The community is tired of the criminal element thinking that the Española valley is a safe place and a safe haven for them,” said Chief Jimenez.

Jimenez said his office got a call back in June from a private investigator in Denver. That private investigator, Daril Cinquanta, is also the man Archuleta was convicted of shooting on a Denver street back in 1971.

“Back in those days, we didn’t have bulletproof vests and our radios did not come out of the car, so I had to crawl to the car and get in the car and call for help,” Cinquanta survived a gunshot to the abdomen.

Archuleta, who also went by Lawrence Pusateri, was sentenced to 9 to14 years in prison, but he escaped in 1974.

Cinquanta retired from the Denver Police Department in 1990, and never gave up on trying to find the man who tried to kill him. Then in June, he got a call. “I get a call,” Cinquanta recalled. “‘I’ve thought about it and I’m gonna tell you where he’s at,’ and this person handed him to me on a platter,” said Cinquanta.

Police said Archuleta was hiding out for decades in Española under the name Ramon Montoya.

Luis Archuleta, now 77-years-old.

Española Police and the FBI worked together to positively identify and arrest Archuleta in his home on August 5, 2020.

“We never give up,” said Agent Langenberg. “All told, the partnership has made the Española community much much safer.”

Agents said Archuleta stayed mostly under the radar and had a family in Española. “{Archuleta} changed his name, and lived an uneventful life,” Langenberg said.

Police said the 77-year-old lived in a rural part of town and didn’t put up a fight during his arrest. Investigators didn’t reveal where Archuleta had worked in northern New Mexico but said they’re happy to bring closure to his victim in this case.

“Hopefully his family will also be able to move on from this and I truly wish them the best,” Chief Jimenez said, of Archuleta’s family. “But at the same time, he’s still a fugitive.”

“You think of these small towns and cities where people know each other and have known each other for years,” Jimenez said. “You start wondering, ‘Hey did I see this gentleman? Did I you know, grab a cup of coffee when he was right next to me?”

Archuleta was extradited to Colorado, and according to the Department of Corrections there, he’ll be eligible for parole in 2024. The FBI currently has more than 300 fugitives it is seeking worldwide.

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