SAN DIEGO — A California man is suspected in a series of murders of sex workers in Mexico, Baja California’s top prosecutor said Friday.
Federal authorities arrested Bryant Rivera, 30, in Downey, a Los Angeles County city, on Thursday at the request of Mexican authorities, according to court documents and US officials.
He was taken into federal custody pending a remand hearing Monday in Los Angeles, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Federal officials said they expected Mexican prosecutors to formally request the extradition.
A federal prosecutor’s complaint upholds an arrest warrant for Rivera and lays out the Baja California case against him over the death last year of a Tijuana sex worker. He says that he has been accused of femicidethe murder of women because they are women.
On Friday, Baja California Attorney General Ricardo Iván Carpio Sánchez said Rivera is charged with the deaths of three women in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego.
Rivera «is considered a serial killer» and «will now face justice in Baja California,» Carpio said on Facebook, according to a translation by NBC News.
It was not clear if Rivera had legal representation. The federal public defender’s office in Los Angeles did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The federal complaint details the January 24, 2022 murder of Ángela Carolina Acosta Flores, a Tijuana club dancer and sex worker, who was last seen on security video entering a hotel room that prosecutors say , was rented by Rivera.
Her lifeless body was found in a bathroom the next day and an autopsy concluded that she had been suffocated, according to the complaint.
Baja California prosecutors say Rivera was seen leaving the room before midnight that night and never returned. He crossed the US-Mexico border on foot 13 minutes after leaving the room, the complaint alleges.
A witness used Rivera’s first and last name to tell detectives who he last saw with Acosta at the club, which is next door to the hotel, according to the file. The unidentified witness said that she knew Rivera as a regular, the complaint says.
Another witness gave a detailed description of the defendant’s face and clothing, noting that his pandemic mask did not fit properly and thus revealed «an acne-scarred face,» according to the document.
Last year, the Baja California attorney general’s office said the suspect in all three cases had sex with his victims before killing them. He frequented Tijuana’s red light district, known as Zona Norte, he said.
It’s unclear exactly what led authorities to Rivera, but the complaint contains details about a truck he was associated with, as well as an image of his early border crossing on January 25, 2022.
Details of the other two cases were not available. Baja California authorities said the deaths occurred between September 2021 and February 2022. It was unclear if Acosta was the latest victim: her mother identified her in early February 2022, according to federal court filings.
The Baja California attorney general’s office said last year that the three bodies were found in hotel rooms.
In a video posted on the attorney general’s Facebook page, Carpio credits «scientific research» and a «strong alliance and collaboration to fight crime across borders» for Thursday’s arrest.
«In Baja California,» he said, «no one escapes justice.»
Gender violence and femicides in Mexico have sparked protests and calls for government action.
The Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System reported more than 1,900 murders of women in Mexico from January to November 2022, of which 858 were femicides, according to the US State Department. human rights report.
joe kottke, alex lo and beak feather contributed.