Scranton, PA – Today, United States Marshal Martin J. Pane announced the return to the United States of Willis Gonzalez, also known as Jorge Cruz Canela - a 30-year-old man formerly of Hazleton, Pennsylvania charged with a 2011 homicide.
On January 20, 2011, the Hazleton Police Department charged Gonzalez with criminal homicide after an altercation resulted in the shooting death of one man and serious injury to another. Travel records revealed that Gonzalez fled the United States to his native Dominican Republic. Upon learning this, the Hazleton Police Department requested the U.S. Marshals Service assist in his apprehension.
The U.S. Marshals and Hazleton detectives pursued leads for more than nine years. Their diligence paid off when - on March 4, 2020 - Dominican Republic authorities arrested him in the town of Bonao, pursuant to an extradition request submitted by the United States. On June 12, 2020, Gonzalez was extradited to the United States.
"This arrest is the direct result of cooperation between U.S. and Dominican law enforcement authorities, to include the U.S. Marshals Service's International Branch," said U.S. Marshal Pane. "Additionally, the persistence of the personnel assigned to the Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force in the Middle District of Pennsylvania working together with the Hazleton Police Department and the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office ensured this man was brought to justice."
Stefanie J. Salavantis, District Attorney of Luzerne county said, "The Luzerne County District Attorney's Office is grateful for the continued diligence and hard work of the United States Marshal's Service in locating and apprehending fugitives who run. This case should deliver a clear message that together we will do everything in our power to track you down and bring you to justice, no matter where you run or hide. Together with the Marshals our message is clear, we never forget those who become victims in our communities, and we will never give up fighting for justice for those victims and their families."
The U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force in the Middle District of Pennsylvania is comprised of 22 state, county and local police agencies. Significant assistance was also provided by the Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs and Dominican law enforcement authorities.