Nicolas Monarrez, the Cartel Op Accused of Murdering a Pregnant Teen and Her Boyfriend, Arrested Five Years Later

On January 6, 2007, Linoshka Torres, 18, and her boyfriend, 20-year-old Luis Campos, parked his dad's car in the driveway of an Oak Cliff mechanic's house and vanished, keys still in the ignition of the red Ford Explorer, cell phones on the seat. It was supposed to have been a quick trip. Campos had to pick up his own car, which was having transmission problems, before returning home to celebrate Three Kings Day.

Three weeks later, they still hadn't returned. Family and friends were at a loss, as were police. Torres, who was six months pregnant, was an honor roll student at her high school; Campos worked as a warehouse stocker and was a talented soccer player. Both volunteered at the Salvation Army, and neither had criminal records nor any apparent reason to disappear, particularly so suddenly. The only clue came from the mechanic's son, who thought he had seen a Chevy Lumina pull behind the Explorer as the couple got out.

Things became clearer in the coming days. Police discovered their bodies underneath a bridge off Dowdy Ferry Road, their clothes stripped from their bodies and evidence of blunt force trauma and other injuries. For a time, there was speculation that their murder was part of an occult ritual, after officials found a voodoo shrine some 200 yards away. But it seems instead that Campos and Torres had been set up as scapegoats for the theft of $40,000 in drugs and cash from the home of Nicolas Monarrez, who was believed to have ties to the Gulf Cartel.

Shortly after the bodies were found, police arrested two men, Frank Estrella and Jorge Banda, who assisted in the kidnapping. Both have since been convicted of murder. But Monarrez, who police believe was the one who committed the murders, was thought to have fled to Mexico.

He remained on the lam until late last week, when customs officers arrested Monarrez as he attempted to cross the border. He is being held at the El Paso County Jail awaiting transfer to Dallas County, where he faces a capital murder charge. In the meantime, if you're in the mood for a good cry, take a look at the MySpace page set up in tribute back in 2007.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson