On Monday, a Philadelphia Police officer went to Mexico City to put cuffs on a suspect wanted for a violent 2010 rape in Center City.
Alberto Suarez, 37, is now in the custody of Philadelphia authorities and charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and rape for the incident, which occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 29, 2010, Philadelphia police and FBI agents announced today.
Suarez allegedly grabbed the 22-year-old victim as she walking down N. 8th Street toward Race streets.
He then allegedly dragged her beside the SEPTA Broad-Ridge Spur line station, and while concealed behind a parked car, raped, beat and choked her against the wall of the subway station.
“It was a brutal assault to the point where the victim almost lost consciousness,” said Lt. Anthony McFadden of the PPD Special Victims Unit.
The Daily News dubbed Suarez “the pantless rapist” after the incident, because surveillance cameras caught him running away naked. He allegedly abandoned his boots and pants at the scene and fled after passersby interrupted the rape.
Suarez, a Mexican national who was not legally in the U.S. at the time of the crime, has been in custody in Mexico City since the FBI and Mexican authorities arrested him in April 2012.
“We hunted him down,” said FBI Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge Edward Hanko.
Police identified Suarez by using photos on a camera found in his pants to find a South Philadelphia home where Suarez formerly resided.
McFadden said Suarez was a traveling laborer who had been in Philadelphia for just four or five months at the time of the rape. Residents in the South Philly home provided a series of phone numbers they shared for purposes of finding work in various states and cities. They said Suarez escaped through Pittsburgh, to West Virginia, and then to Texas.
“Based on that phone trail, we were able to track him to Pittsburgh where his family members were as well as to keep tracking him through the states into Texas,” McFadden said.
Believing Suarez was heading for Mexico, federal agents filed a warrant against Suarez on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution on Sept. 2, four days after the Center City rape, Hanko said.
FBI tracked Suarez down to Chimalhuacan, a town outside Mexico City, then notified Mexican authorities of Suarez’s location. Mexican Federales made the arrest on the federal U.S. warrant.
“Through our investigation we determined where in Mexico he was,” said Supervisory Special Agent J.J. Klaver. Klaver declined to comment on the exact nature of the investigation.
Suarez was in custody for two years before he was extradited back to Philly from Mexico City.
“In Mexico, the system and the judicial process works much much slower, especially when it’s a national of the country. … So there’s extra precaution to make sure we have all our proper warrants,” Hanko said. “What was nice was once that extradition came through, that a Philadelphia police officer, accompanied by an FBI agent, travel to Mexico City, put the handcuffs on Alberto Suarez, and brought him back to Philadelphia so he could face charges in the state of Pennsylvania.”
McFadden called the extradition a “bittersweet” moment for the victim.
“She has had four years of trying to get some closure and some relief. Now unfortunately the wound’s gonna be reopened again, but there’s even more closure now that she knows he’s in custody and will never harm anybody again,” McFadden said.
After trial on the Philadelphia charges, Suarez will also face charges for a March 2010 rape of a teenage girl in Allegheny County.
McFadden said Suarez’ DNA has not been matched to any other crimes.