An 18-year-old alleged gang member was being held in lieu of $5 million bail Sunday in connection with the rape of a cashier at an El Monte convenience store last weekend.
El Monte and West Covina police captured Joseph Leo Amaya, who had been sought for a week in connection with the sexual assault, shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday during a traffic stop in West Covina, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Officials Wednesday issued a $5 million arrest warrant for the suspected El Monte Flores gang member.
“El Monte Detectives have been working tirelessly since the attack which happened one week ago,” El Monte police Sgt. Roger Cobian said.
“The residents of El Monte and the surrounding areas can sleep a little better at night now that he’s in custody,” he said.
Cobian said tips from the public helped detectives track Amaya down,
Undercover detectives who had been seeking Amaya spotted him in a car in an unincorporated county area near La Puente and followed it, according to West Covina and El Monte police. The El Monte requested assistance from West Covina police as the car headed into their city.
Officers from both agencies stopped the car in the area of Vincent Avenue and the 10 Freeway.
“He was taken into custody without incident,” the lieutenant said.
Amaya is accused of the Oct. 19 sexual assault of a young woman who was working at a convenience store in the 4100 block of Peck Road, Sgt. Roger Cobian said.
The victim, a college student, was preparing to close the store for the night when an attacker grabbed onto her, dragged her into the back of the store and sexually assaulted her, Cobian said.
Detectives quickly identified Amaya, described as a member of a local street gang, as a suspect in the attack.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Amaya with two counts of forcible rape and three counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object Wednesday, as he remained a fugitive. An warrant was issued.
Following his arrest, “The resident of El Monte and the surrounding areas can sleep a little better at night knowing he’s in custody,” Cobian said.
Amaya was being held in lieu of $5 million bail pending his initial court appearance, which was scheduled for Monday in El Monte Superior Court, according to El Monte police and county booking records.
A search of Los Angeles County booking records indicated Amaya was previously convicted of resisting or obstructing police in June in El Monte Superior Court.
In addition to El Monte and Covina police, agencies that took part in the manhunt included the U.S. Marshals Service Southwest Fugitive Task Force, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Major Crime Surveillance Team, the Los Angeles County Department of Probation and the Los Angeles County AB 109 Task Force.
PHOTO courtesy of the El Monte Police Department