Photo credit: Alexander Nguyen

A defendant who jumped bail and fled in the middle of a three-day cocaine-trafficking trial in San Diego was back in custody Tuesday after being tracked down in Northern California.

Deputy U.S. marshals arrested Itai Enriquez-Rodriguez, 21, on Monday outside his girlfriend’s home near San Jose, authorities said.

Enriquez-Rodriguez was arrested in July 2016 at Otay Mesa Port of Entry after allegedly being caught with three kilograms of cocaine in his vehicle.

Following a federal investigation, Enriquez-Rodriguez, who had been released on bond, was indicted on charges of conspiracy and drug smuggling.

Two months ago, on the second day of his trial, Enriquez-Rodriguez failed to appear in court, and the presiding judge called a recess so agents could undertake a search for him.

During the break, investigators discovered a Facebook post by Enriquez-Rodriguez’s brother that included a photo of the pair, a snapshot of a man holding a pistol and a caption reading, “He who laughs last, laughs the best. And I’m in no hurry.”

Both images had been posted the morning Enriquez-Rodriguez went on the lam, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.

Finding that Enriquez-Rodriguez had voluntarily removed himself from the criminal proceedings against him, U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff ruled that they could continue, despite his absence.

The trial concluded June 23, with jurors finding Enriquez-Rodriguez guilty of both charges he faced.

Federal agents continued to follow leads into Enriquez-Rodriguez’s whereabouts. The U.S. Marshals Service determined this week he was hiding in his hometown of Gilroy.

Enriquez-Rodriguez’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 23.

–City News Service

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