By Jen Kastner
PERMIAN BASIN- Deputy U.S. Marshals often hit the gym two or three times each day, five days a week. That's how they're ready catch anyone that runs from them.
On the top floor the downtown Midland federal courthouse, this low-profile government agency researches where fugitives may be hiding. Then, they go find them.
Midland Deputy U.S. Marshal Jason Schwaninger, says, "Fights [with criminals] happen all the time. Chases happen pretty regularly. It's dangerous, without a doubt. However, once you do this, it's hard to do anything else."
NewsWest 9 teamed up with these deputies to profile who they consider to be the top fugitives out of the Permian Basin. Here are the three 'most wanted':
Richard Jacob Taylor (a.k.a. Interstate Jake) is 32 years-old, 5'10'' and 230 pounds. He's wanted for aggravated robbery. In early 2011, Taylor and an accomplice hit up the 7/11 store at 3900 Tanglewood in Odessa. We're told Taylor held a store clerk at gunpoint and robbed her of several thousand dollars in cold hard cash. Odessa Police immediately caught the other man but Taylor took off. The U.S. Marshals Service says Taylor fancies himself a rap artist and is likely hanging out in popular hip-hop scenes.
Midland Deputy U.S. Marshal Steve Clark says, "I've been told that he's [put out] some records and he continues to try to make it in the industry."
It begs the questions, where's he going to hide if he makes it big?
The next person authorities are looking for is Jose Luis Salais is 39 years-old, 5'11' and 170 pounds. He's wanted for failure to appear in court, but he was originally charged with continuous sexual abuse of young children.
"I think he's a danger to children anywhere," Clark said.
According to a graphic indictment, Salais repeatedly assaulted kids younger than 14-years-old. This July, his case was set to go in front of an Ector County jury. While waiting for the trial to start, he was out on bond but with special conditions. One of the conditions was the requirement to wear an electronic monitor around his ankle. That device was sliced off right before his court date.
Ector County District Attorney, Bobby Bland, says, "Justice may be delayed in this case but it won't be denied, hopefully."
Salais is now on the run. Federal officials believe he traveled south.
"Initially, [we think] Mexico, but beyond that, he could be anywhere," Clark said.
The third person authorities are looking for is Juan David Lopez is 35 years-old, 5'5'' and 165 pounds. He's wanted for violating supervised release conditions. Originally, he was charged with having a weapon that he planned to use in a drug trafficking scheme. That's what landed him in prison.
Once he got out, he was indicted for distributing a hundred kilos or more of marijuana.
"It's quite a bit. It's what we call a bale, or so," Schwaninger said.
That amount could have been distributed all at once or in smaller increments. Either way, that's still a substantial quantity of narcotics. NewsWest 9 visited his old apartment at Midland's Delmar Villas in hopes that he'd have some family members who'd talk with us.
However, a new family has since moved in. They say they still receive Lopez's mail.
"I don't think he's filled out a change of address [form]," the new tenant said.
We don't think he'll be doing that anytime soon.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of these three top fugitives, please contact the U.S. Marshals Service in Midland at (432) 686-4100.