Sheriff's office arrests two men in teen's slaying at Camel Tracks

Jan. 26—The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office has arrested two men accused of killing 17-year-old Eduardo Preciado Luevano, whose body was found riddled with bullets Monday in a car parked along County Road 56 in the Caja del Rio.

Giovanny Nicolas-Saldivar, 19, is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and tampering with evidence, online court records show. He was booked in the Santa Fe County jail around 3:30 a.m. Thursday, according to the facility's inmate log.

Edgar Robles Escudero, 23, was arrested around 12:15 p.m. Thursday on Airport Road, the sheriff's office said in a news release. He is charged with an open count of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and tampering with evidence.

A statement of probable cause filed Thursday in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court says Nicolas-Saldivar told detectives he and Escudero had lured Luevano to the Camel Tracks shooting range in the Caja del Rio on Monday afternoon, when, he alleged, Escudero unloaded a full clip of AK-47 ammunition into the vehicle Luevano was driving.

An autopsy conducted Wednesday found about 20 bullet fragments in Luevano's body and extensive organ damage, the document says.

It does not mention possible motives for the killing.

Sheriff's office spokesman Juan Ríos said investigators are exploring theories of why Luevano might have been killed.

"They have suspicions of the motivation, but they don't have anything concrete," Ríos said.

Deputies discovered Luevano's body slumped in the driver's seat of a blue Hyundai sedan, with the engine still running, after receiving a call Monday from the relative of a man who had heard gunshots near the shooting range southwest of Santa Fe and then found the victim in the car, according to the statement of probable cause.

Detectives obtained surveillance video from the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the federal land, and saw footage of the Hyundai Sonata entering the Camel Tracks area at 3:26 p.m. Monday. The sedan was following a silver Dodge Journey, the statement says.

The Journey was registered to two women with an address on Redwood Street in Santa Fe, the statement says, and investigators tied the address to Nicolas-Saldivar after a teen boy tried to enter the Camel Tracks area Monday night as officers were continuing to investigate Luevano's death.

The boy and two women, who are not identified in the document, drove toward the shooting scene around 9:30 p.m. They told deputies they had attended a party in the area several days earlier and were looking for a lost cellphone.

Investigators discovered the teen and Luevano had both been mentioned in a Santa Fe police report about a Dec. 25 incident involving an aggravated assault, the statement says. The police report also named Nicolas-Saldivar as someone involved in the incident and listed his address as the Redwood Street residence on the Journey's registration.

The Santa Fe Police Department did not provide a copy of the incident report Thursday.

While a sheriff's office detective was headed to the Redwood Street home to begin surveillance, he encountered what he believed was the Dodge Journey seen by investigators on the BLM video. The detective believed the teen who attempted to enter the crime scene Monday night was a passenger in the vehicle and tried to follow it but was unsuccessful, the statement says.

Detectives spoke with several friends and associates of Luevano early Wednesday.

The victim's roommate told investigators he believed someone had broken into his home Tuesday and "rummaged" through Luevano's bedroom, according to the statement of probable cause.

Others told investigators Luevano had asked several friends to download a location tracking app on their phones Monday, and started a WhatsApp group chat to let people know of his whereabouts and to alert them there was a safe in his room with money. He asked that they send the money to his mother in Mexico if anything happened to him.

However, the statement says detectives did not find a safe when searching Luevano's room.

Some friends said Luevano told them he had been taken into a van at a local gas station and that someone was driving him to an unknown location.

Others said he sent messages indicating he was in a "gray Dodge" and gave the license plate number for the Journey.

One friend told detectives Luevano's location did not show up on the tracking app at any gas station but did pop up when he was in the Camel Tracks area.

Information in the friends' statements seem to conflict with other evidence, which Ríos acknowledged Thursday.

"Detectives, through questioning, will attempt to get clarification regarding some of the conflicting information provided by individual statements. Based on the BLM video attained by investigators it appears that Luevano drove his vehicle to the area," Ríos wrote in an email.

The sheriff's office executed a search warrant Wednesday at the Redwood Street residence with the help of the agency's SWAT team. The statement says Nicolas-Saldivar was arrested during the search and later interviewed by investigators.

Nicolas-Saldivar told them he had contacted Luevano on Monday and told him Escudero needed help with a "vehicle stuck in the mountains." He picked up Escudero, who put an AK-47 in the Dodge, Nicolas-Saldivar said. The pair then drove to Santa Fe Pawn and bought ammunition, he added.

Nicolas-Saldivar told Luevano to meet him and Escudero at a Shell gas station on Airport Road. Luevano then followed the Journey out to the Camel Tracks area and stopped when Escudero motioned for him to park.

"Giovanny indicated Escudero exited the Journey [and] told Luevano 'You're already dead' (in Spanish) and shot Luevano multiple times," according to the statement of probable cause.

Nicolas-Saldivar said he and Escudero left the scene after Luevano's slaying and returned to the Shell gas station on Airport Road — where Escudero purchased beer.

The case remains under investigation.

"Investigators were out overnight and early this morning addressing matters related to the homicide investigation," Ríos wrote in an email.