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Mexican Authorities Arrest Suspects In 1997 Richmond County Murders

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TOLUCA, MEXICO — Mexican authorities have arrested two brothers for the 1997 murders of five migrant workers in Richmond County.

Alonso Cruz Osorio and Jose Luis Cruz Osorio were arrested where they worked in central Mexico.

The brothers had been charged with five counts of murder and five counts of robbery for an October, 1997, shooting spree in Mangum, 40 miles east of Monroe in Richmond County.

A survivor of the attack helped police track the assailants back to Mexico.

The brothers, who also have been linked to killings in Mexico, are expected to be extradited back to the United States. But Richmond County Sheriff Dale Furr said extradition may be a problem because North Carolina has a death penalty.

"I do know that Mexico hesitates to extradite people back to states that have the death penalty," Furr said. "Right now, I'm not sure if they will be extradited."

Furr said Mexico could try the men using sworn affidavits from North Carolina witnesses if they are not extradited.

The 1997 slayings reportedly stemmed from a dispute that happened after Jose Luis Cruz Osorio was named labor foreman at a farm. The victims were killed with an assault rifle and a small-caliber pistol, which have not been found.

Furr said the Osoris tried to catch a plane to Mexico from Charlotte as they fled but could not buy a ticket because they had no identification. He said they took a bus to Atlanta, where officials lost track of them.

Furr sent deputies to Mexico to investigate.

"We have kept in touch with the FBI and informants who have given us information about their whereabouts in an attempt not to let the case go cold," Furr said.

"We had a language barrier. The whole thing was a problem."

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