El Centro, California - On Saturday, at approximately 1 pm, the El Centro Police Department received information regarding an at large murder suspect from Kern County California. The initial phone call came from the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office who was following up on information provided by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. The suspect, Ricardo Tapia (33 of Kern County), was believed to be in El Centro and was possibly driving a white, 2012, Chevy, Impala.
Tapia was also believed to be in the company of a wanted female, Melissa Avila (33 also of Kern County). The vehicle was believed to be at a local hotel in the area of 1500 Ocotillo in El Centro. Law enforcement personnel entered the license plate of the suspect vehicle into our regional Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) system. Just prior to 2pm, ECPD dispatch advised patrol units the vehicle was detected by the cameras on Main and Imperial traveling northbound. The Vehicle was located in the area of 800 North Imperial Avenue where it was parked and unoccupied. 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 Imperial 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.
Any inquiries about the case involving Tapia and Avila should be referred to the originating agency. The El Centro Police Department is not in possession of the facts and circumstances in this case nor would we be in a position to release any information without the consent of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. 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. The booking numbers below correspond with the booking information for both suspects in this case.