LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The man accused of shooting five people at a Las Vegas birthday party was deported from the United States at least four times and previously pleaded guilty to kidnapping a man, court documents the 8 News Now Investigators reviewed said.
Alberto Santacruz, 36, was taken into custody on the latest charges against him early Sunday morning. Police were not able to confirm his identity at the time because he gave them a fake identification card, an arrest report said.
Court documents indicate Santacruz was born in Mexico but was brought to the United States as an 8-year-old. Santacruz is not a U.S. citizen.
In 2006, Santacruz was part of a group that kidnapped a man from his home and threatened to kill him over the theft of $50,000 worth of methamphetamine, court records said.
The group of men then brought the victim to an apartment, where he and another man had their hands bound and their heads dunked underwater in a bathtub, court records said.
The group then drove the men to a desert area near Logandale, saying they would kill them. One victim was able to escape, running to a gas station and yelling “They are going to kill me,” records said.
Police later took the suspects, including Santacruz, into custody. Police said Santacruz was responsible for tying up the victims and striking one man several times, documents said. All the suspects identified themselves to police as undocumented immigrants.
Police charged Santacruz with first-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon. Santacruz later took a deal where he pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. As part of the agreement, Santacruz was to serve between one and six years in the Nevada Department of Corrections. The agreement also included a stipulation that federal authorities could deport him.
Santacruz began his NDOC sentence in October 2007, records showed. He served 21 months, a lawyer said in a later federal case. There are no federal documents from 2009 mentioning his deportation, but a document filed in 2017 indicates Santacruz was deported in October 2009.
In 2015, Las Vegas Metro police arrested Santacruz on a drug charge. He later agreed to plead guilty to a drug-possession charge. A judge sentenced him to a suspended 3-year sentence, instead ordering him to be placed on probation for up to 3 years.
In 2016, Santacruz violated his probation, which sent him to prison for a minimum of a year. It was unclear when Santacruz was released from custody.
In May 2017, federal prosecutors charged Santacruz with being an undocumented immigrant who had reentered the United States illegally, records showed.
Prosecutors said Santacruz was removed from the country three times, in 2009, and twice in June 2014, documents said. Prosecutors agreed to sentence Santacruz to a year in federal custody, documents said.
In September 2017, Santacruz was again removed from the country. In December 2017, he was found to be in the United States as an undocumented immigrant again.
In 2019, federal authorities said they arrested Santacruz in Phoenix for violating his supervised release having entered the country illegally.
“Since these convictions, Mr. Santacruz-Benitez has matured and no longer associates with the same type of individuals nor uses drugs,” his lawyer said in documents filed before his sentencing. “He is dedicated to his family and his immigration offenses are a by-product of that dedication.”
In September 2019, a Nevada judge sentenced Santacruz to 16 months in prison with no supervised release to follow to be run concurrent with a sentence of 40 months in prison and supervised release from an Arizona judge.
Santacruz was released from federal prison on Nov. 29, a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson said. It was unclear if he was again deported.
Records indicate Santacruz’s parents, siblings and children all live in the United States.
Over the weekend, police arrested Santacruz following the shooting that happened at a 50th surprise birthday party after he allegedly got into a fight with another man in the backyard of the home on Holt Avenue near Lake Mead and Nellis boulevards.
There were around 100 people at the party, including children. Five people were shot with two suffering critical injuries, police said.