Crime

Records: Drugs, affair led to arrests in deaths of men found in trunk of Lexington car

Surveillance video, phone records, a drug operation and a suspected extramarital affair led to the indictment of four men nearly two years after two others were found dead in the trunk of a car off Blue Sky Parkway in Lexington, according to court records.

Rosario Diaz-Barraza, 29; Ramon Camacho Zepeda, 51; Josė Feliz Tlatenchi, 37; and Tomás Tlatenchi, 37, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping that resulted in death and one count of transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines, according to the office the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

The victims were identified as 29-year-old Josė Olascoaga and 27-year-old Marco Antonio Tunai Ortiz, both of Lexington.

Diaz-Barraza, Zepeda, and Josė and Tomás Tlatenchi are all accused of traveling from Pennsylvania to Kentucky between Sept. 9 and Sept. 11, 2017, according to court records. On or around Sept. 11, 2017, Diaz-Barraza and Zepeda bought three pairs of gloves at a Sunoco gas station on Newtown Pike in Lexington, according to their indictment.

Later that day, Diaz-Barraza and Zepeda allegedly demanded money from Olascoaga that was “owed to them from the distribution” of controlled substances, according to court records. The two are accused of then striking Olascoaga in the head with a “sharp instrument,” according to the indictment.

Zepeda “and others” are accused of then placing Olascoaga and Ortiz in the trunk of a Volkswagen Jetta near Blue Sky Parkway, according to court records. Olascoaga and Ortiz’s bodies were found in the trunk on Sept. 14, 2017.

The four are also accused of driving two stolen cars, one of which belonged to Olascoaga, back to Pennsylvania from Kentucky, according to court records.

When the bodies were found, Zepeda had been on Lexington drug investigators’ radar after $151,338 in suspected drug proceeds was found in January in a tractor-trailer stopped on Interstate 75, court records show. The truck’s driver was observed getting into the truck at the East New Circle Road Walmart parking lot after leaving Zepeda’s Lexus SUV, according to affidavits and documents filed in a separate cocaine trafficking and money laundering case against Zepeda.

Through cell phone records, detectives were able to place the phones of Olascoaga and Ortiz in an area of Lexington where Zepeda resided on the day they died, according to court documents. A witness and video surveillance placed Zepeda and his black Ford Expedition at 430 Blue Sky Parkway before the homicides, and Zepeda allegedly spoke later about striking Olascoaga with a “bladed instrument,” that was reportedly about 16 inches long.

The witness told police Zepeda said his wife was having an affair with Olascoaga, according to court records, and Olascoaga had been stopped by police on an unrelated traffic matter Sept. 7 with Zepeda’s wife in the car.

If convicted, each man could face up to a life sentence in prison on the kidnapping charge, with a fine of up to $250,000 and supervised release of up to five years, according to the federal indictment. If convicted on the charge of transporting a stolen car across state lines, they could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, as well as supervised release of up to three years.

Diaz-Barraza was arrested in January 2018 on a state charge of tampering with evidence in connection with the deaths of Olascoaga and Ortiz, according to court records. That case was dismissed when the new federal charges were filed.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Louisville’s DEA office and the Lexington Police Department.

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