CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The FBI is adding more incentives for the public to provide information that could lead to an arrest of the bureau's 10 most wanted fugitives.
On Thursday, the bureau announced it is increasing the maximum six-figure reward from $100,000 to up to $250,000. Some cases may even have the potential for higher amounts.
“The FBI recognizes the crucial role that public assistance has played in tracking fugitives throughout the years,” said Luis Quesada, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. “Raising the rewards for the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives will ideally garner additional public tips resulting in the capture of these dangerous criminals."
One of the people currently on the top 10 list is Alejandro Castillo, who is wanted for murder. In 2016, Castillo - then 18 years old - allegedly murdered Truc Quan "Sandy" Ly Le, a 23-year-old woman and coworker of Castillo's. They worked together at a restaurant in Charlotte and had previously dated.
WCNC Charlotte reported in October 2017 that Le's body was found in a wooded part of Cabarrus County. She was shot in the head according to the FBI. Le's uncle pleaded for closure that year.
The FBI said in 2017 Castillo owed Le about $1,000. Text messages between him and Le revealed he agreed to repay the loan to Le on August 9, 2016. However, the FBI alleges Castillo instead had Le withdraw a large sum of money from an ATM before killing her, citing an investigation from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. He then fled the state in Le's car along with a new girlfriend.
The girlfriend would eventually turn herself in two months later to Mexican authorities. After returning to North Carolina, the FBI said she faces charges tied to the homicide as an accomplice.
While Castillo's last known residence was in Charlotte, he has ties to Phoenix, Arizona, where Le's car was found. The FBI also said he was spotted crossing into Mexico and may be living in one of two cities in the state of Aguascalientes: Franciso de los Romo or Pabellón de Arteaga. He's fluent in both English and Spanish.
Beth Boggess, assistant special agent in charge at the FBI's office in Charlotte, said the bureau has leveraged local, national, and international partnerships to continue working on the case, from Charlotte to Mexico. That work has led them to learn Castillo is getting assistance from others.
"What we know is that Castillo has people that are helping him evade law enforcement capture. And what we want those people to know is that they are also committing a crime and helping him evade law enforcement," she said.
Boggess credited the work among agencies as a critical part of getting justice for families affected by violent crimes.
"Our work and relationships are stronger than ever, and we work together collaboratively to capture these fugitives," she said.
She also hopes that an increase in reward money will help bring in more tips to get the top 10 fugitives arrested. In particular, Boggess hopes it'll convince someone close to Castillo to speak up and aid in his capture.
"We think $250,000 is a lot of money, and hopefully that's motivation for someone to come forward," she said. "Give us some information that can help us locate Castillo."
The FBI said it started publishing its list of the 10 most wanted fugitives in March 1950, when a reporter asked for the names of "toughest guys" sought by agents. An article in the Washington Daily News that followed generated enough publicity that former director J. Edgar Hoover chose to maintain an ongoing list.
The first person named to the list was Thomas Holden in 1950. He was wanted for the murder of his wife, her brother, and her stepbrother. He was arrested in 1961 in Oregon after the FBI got a tip from a citizen who read about him in The Oregonian newspaper.
Fugitives named to the list must be considered particularly dangerous to society, with a long track record of committing serious crimes. The FBI also considers whether national and/or international publicity would likely assist in apprehending the fugitives.
Anyone who has a tip about a most wanted fugitive can call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI, leave a tip online, or contact a local FBI field office. Anyone living outside of the United States should contact the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.