EL CENTRO --

A 33-year-old Kern County man wanted in connection to a Kern County murder was arrested Saturday by El Centro police.

At about 1 p.m. Saturday, the county Sheriff's Office notified the El Centro Police Department about an at-large murder suspect from Kern County.

The suspect, Ricardo Tapia, was believed to be in El Centro and was possibly driving a white 2012 Chevrolet Impala. Tapia was also believed to be in the company of a wanted female, Melissa Avila, 33, also of Kern County, the ECPD reported.

The vehicle was believed to be at a local hotel in the 1500 block of Ocotillo Drive in El Centro. Law enforcement personnel entered the license plate of the suspect vehicle into our regional Automated License Plate Reader system.

Just prior to 2 p.m., ECPD dispatch advised patrol units the vehicle was detected by the cameras on Main and Imperial traveling northbound. The vehicle was then located in the 800 block of North Imperial Avenue where it was parked and unoccupied, an ECPD press release stated.

The patrol units surveilled the area and were later able to confirm both wanted suspects were inside a restaurant in the area. Officers entered the restaurant and located and arrested both Tapia and Avila without further incident.

The murder warrant for Tapia and the flight/escape warrant for Avila were confirmed and both suspects were booked in the county jail.

This case represents a larger cooperative effort between the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office, Kern County Sheriff’s and the El Centro Police Department in taking both suspects into custody safely while minimizing the risks to all involved.

Interagency cooperation and action is a crucial tool used in the investigation, arrest, and prosecution in an untold number of cases and is vital to a larger effort of community service. 

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