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Published August 07 2012

Teen murder suspect from Fargo surrenders at Arizona border

FARGO – A Fargo teenager wanted on murder and assault charges in Washington surrendered Sunday to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Arizona.

Customs officers working at the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz., arrested the 16-year-old boy after confirming a warrant issued by the Lynden (Wash.) Police Department last December, according to a CBP news release.

The CBP did not identify the teen, but officials in Washington’s Whatcom County confirmed that the 16-year-old is Oscar Rodriguez, who allegedly was involved in a botched drug deal in November that left one man dead and another with a gunshot wound to the face.

Rodriguez was transferred to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office in Nogales for extradition.

Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran said he will ask a judge to remand Rodriguez to adult court to faces charges of second-degree murder, first-degree assault and possession of heroin and methamphetamine with intent to deliver.

Rodriguez’s brother Salvador Rodriguez, 22, also faces murder and drug charges. Authorities believe he is hiding in Mexico, McEachran said.

“We were very surprised to catch one without the other, to be honest with you,” he said.

Oscar Rodriguez’s specific ties to Fargo were unclear.

Victor Brabble, a CBP spokesman, said the agency doesn’t confirm the names of juveniles arrested, so he couldn’t say how the CBP knew the teen was from Fargo. Generally speaking, he said, residency may be established by ID, a subject’s criminal history or through information gathered as the CBP processes people entering and leaving the country.

McEachran said he wasn’t aware that Oscar Rodriguez had any connections to Fargo.

Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks said he had “no idea what the Fargo information is about,” and to his knowledge it never came up in the investigation.

“It’s nothing that rings a bell with me,” he said.

Fargo police couldn’t be reached for comment. During the Nov. 22 incident, 22-year-old Jesse Winchester was shot and killed and his father, Jeremiah Winchester, then 41, was wounded by a gunshot to the face.

According to court documents: Jeremiah Winchester set up a meeting to buy heroin from Salvador Rodriguez with the intent of robbing him because he owed money to one of Jeremiah Winchester’s friends.

When the deal went bad, Oscar Rodriguez allegedly shot Jeremiah Winchester in the face, sparking a shootout. Autopsy results showed Jesse Winchester died from a bullet that went through both lungs.

The brothers and a third man, Andrew Medina, fled the scene with a female driver. Salvador Rodriguez had been shot in the leg, and when they stopped at a house to treat the wound, his brother accidentally shot him in the other leg, the driver told police. She said she drove the brothers to California.

Medina is being held in jail on $1 million bail. Jeremiah Winchester was sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempted robbery, attempted drug possession and unlawful possession of a firearm, the Tacoma News Tribune reported.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528