In Texas, law enforcement loves to remind criminals that it isn't a matter of if they catch you, but when. They're relentless in their pursuit of justice, and they won't give up so easily. Look at the case of one Juan Salaz. He led the police on a chase for almost two decades, and eventually, they brought him down. It was an international game of hide and seek that ended with his arrest in 2013.

How could one person last so long while being hunted by lawmen on two sides of the US/Mexico border? After being on the run for so long, how did he finally get caught?

Juan Salaz And A 16 Year Run From Texas Police

Juan's story really gets started back in 1995. That was the year that Salaz and another man kidnapped someone at gunpoint. Once they had the person, they demanded a ransom. I've seen enough movies to know, you never demand a ransom. Things only get worse once you do. Things definitely got worse for Juan Salaz and his accomplice.

Some of Houston's undercover police officers arranged for the exchange, and once they had the kidnapped individual they did the "big reveal". They made it known that they were with the police, and Salaz opened fire. Two officers would be injured in the lead pill back and forth. Salaz would be injured as well. Once he recovered, he plead guilty to charges of:

  • aggravated kidnapping with a deadly weapon
  • two counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer

Salaz would be sentenced to three concurrent 35-year stretches. They could have just given him life, but maybe they thought that would be letting him out too soon.

Salaz Makes A Break For It...For 16 Years

Juan Salaz wouldn't spend too much time inside before he flew the coop. In 1997, Salaz waited until nighttime to scale a 16 ft wall topped with razor wire at the Garza East prison. The prison is in Beeville, which is in south Texas for those not in the know.

That being in south Texas part must have come in handy, because Juan Salaz was somehow able to get around the razor wire and make a run for the border. Depending on who you ask, the escape was either planned well in advance, or it was the type of thing you'd expect to see in Cool Hand Luke. Salazar tells a story of him escaping in some shoes and boxer shorts, bleeding from the razor wire, while he made his way through the woods. He hid by day and moved by night, until he was able to catch a ride to Laredo. At least, that's his version of the story.


He made his way into Mexico where he lived with his wife and kids, and even had two more while on the run. Supposedly, he sold corn on street corners and worked construction jobs, all while trying to keep a low profile. After a close call with the cops, Salaz decided he would only see his family once a week, and it was on one of those rendezvous that law enforcement would swoop in for the catch.

Reports state that law enforcement had contacted several of his siblings, and had even been in contact with his wife at one point. This is why you never blend your home life and work life, fellas. Salaz made it 16 years before he learned that lesson the hard way. After a decade and a half, Salaz would be back behind bars.

The Longest Escaped Inmate From Texas Makes His Way To The Panhandle

After getting arrested again in Mexico and being shipped to the US, Salaz was then sent to the Texas panhandle. He's waiting for his shot at parole inside the Clements Unit near Amarillo, Texas.

Juan Salaz is supposedly up for parole in 2028.

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