R. Scott Moxley told you in January about the capture of Ali Achekzai, a onetime Ladera Ranch resident and alleged Southern California serial rapist who was found living in Salzburg, Austria, through a DNA match.
Tonight, the 32-year-old on District Attorney Tony Rackauckas' Ten Most Wanted list will finally be back on Orange County terra firma.
“This guy is the poster boy for a one-strike law,” Rackauckas said at that January press conference Mox covered.
He is scheduled to arrive at LAX on a flight from Austria this evening, Rackauckas' office announced. Their statement on the case follows:
August 27, 2010
INTERNATIONAL SERIAL RAPIST TO ARRIVE AT LAX; EXTRADITED FROM AUSTRIA AFTER INTERPOL DNA HIT
*Defendant was featured on the OCDA's “Ten Most Wanted” list
SANTA ANA – A man suspected of being an international serial rapist is in custody in Orange County after being extradited from Austria following a DNA match through INTERPOL. The defendant was featured on the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) Ten Most Wanted list.
Ali Achekzai, 32, formerly of Ladera Ranch, will be arriving at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from Austria this evening, Aug. 27, 2010. He is being escorted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Tustin Police Department (TPD).
The defendant will be held in the Orange County Jail on $1 million bail and is subject to a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement no-bail hold. He is expected to be arraigned Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
Achekzai is charged with two felony counts of forcible rape, two felony count of sexual penetration by foreign object by force, one felony count of aggravated assault, one felony count of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense, and sentencing enhancements and allegations for committing sexual crimes against more than one victim and causing great bodily injury to a victim. The OCDA is prosecuting the defendant for rapes and assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense (see below) that occurred in both Orange and San Diego Counties. If convicted, Achekzai faces a maximum sentence of 68 years and four months to life in state prison.
TPD is the lead investigating agency and the FBI coordinated the extradition. The OCDA charged the defendant and a $500,000 arrest warrant was issued for him Oct. 19, 2004. The warrant was later increased to $1 million and Achekzai was arrested in Salzburg, Austria, on Jan. 26, 2010. The Federal Ministry of Justice in Vienna, Austria granted extradition on Aug. 13, 2010.
Achekzai's return to the United States will be funded by the FBI Project Welcome Home, which provides funding to facilitate the transportation of fugitives wanted by the FBI to the United States. It is anticipated that the federal government will dismiss the federal warrant charging Achekzai with Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution in lieu of the OCDA prosecution.
Circumstances of the Rape of Jane Doe #1
On Jan. 31, 2004, Achekzai is accused of meeting 21-year-old Jane Doe #1 at a nightclub in Laguna Beach. Shortly after 2:00 a.m., Jane Doe #1 observed the defendant following her in his car as she was driving on Jamboree Road toward Tustin. The defendant is accused of following Jane Doe #1 as she drove around and attempted to get away from him. Achekzai is accused of pulling up near Jane Doe in his car and yelling for her to pull over because he wanted to talk to her about something important.
Jane Doe #1 parked in a fast food restaurant lot and Achekzai is accused of getting into her car under the pretense of warning her about another man she had met at the nightclub. The victim became scared, got out of her car, and attempted to run away. Achekzai is accused of getting out of the victim's car, chasing Jane Doe #1, catching her, and leading her back to the car as she cried and struggled to get away.
Once they were back in the car, the defendant is accused of grabbing Jane Doe #1 by the neck, holding her down, digitally penetrating and forcibly raping her. He is accused of then getting back into his car and driving away. Jane Doe #1 reported the rape to police and DNA was collected from her clothing. TPD investigated this case.
Circumstances of the Rape of Jane Doe #2
On May 3, 2004, Achekzai is accused of meeting two women while at a nightclub with his male cousin in San Diego. Late that night, the defendant is accused of going with his cousin and the two women to Mount Soledad in San Diego County. Achekzai is accused of isolating 21-year-old Jane Doe #2 from the other two friends by inviting her to take a walk through a dark park. Once the defendant was alone with the victim, he is accused of grabbing her and pulling her to the ground as she struggled to get away.
Achekzai is accused of repeatedly hitting and punching the victim and telling her that he would kill her if she screamed. He is accused of covering the victim's mouth to keep her quiet and forcibly raping and sexually penetrating her in the bushes. The defendant is accused of threatening Jane Doe #2 that he would kill her if she told anyone about the rape.
When the defendant and victim returned to the car, Jane Doe #2 immediately told her friend that she had been raped. Achekzai is accused of becoming angry and punching her in the mouth, knocking out her front tooth. Jane Doe #2 reported the rape to police and DNA was collected from her clothing. The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) investigated this case.
In July 2004, DNA linked both rapes to the same defendant. Charges were filed against Achekzai for the sexual assaults of Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 in October 2004.
Circumstances of Assault Against Jane Doe #3
On Oct. 26, 2002, Achekzai is accused of getting into a limousine with four other people including 24-year-old Jane Doe #3, her friend, and two friends of the defendant. The group had been at a nightclub in Laguna Beach and drove to Costa Mesa to drop one of the men off at home. While still in the limousine, Achekzai is accused of removing Jane Doe #3's pants and assaulting her after she fell asleep with the intent to commit a sexual offense. The victim woke up to find the defendant fondling her breasts. Achekzai is accused of swearing at the victim and telling Jane Doe #3 to shut up as she screamed. Jane Doe #3's friend was also asleep in the limousine.
Circumstances of the Flight and Arrest
Achekzai is accused of fleeing the country prior to being charged for the rapes. The defendant is accused of fleeing illegally into Canada. He is accused of changing his name several times and obtaining identification under the identities of Ali Achekzai, Ali Achekza, Ali Achelczia, Waleed Nawabi, Walid Nawabi, David Azizi, and Wali Ahmed Shoja. He is a national and citizen of Afghanistan and is suspected to have lived in Afghanistan, Germany, San Francisco, Canada, Austria, and England.
Based on the fact that Achekzai had multiple California victims, and knowing that he fled internationally, TPD worked with the Orange County Sheriff's Department Crime Lab in December 2009 to coordinate the submission of Achekzai's DNA to the international police agency, INTERPOL.
On April 24, 2009, Achekzai was arrested in Austria for rape under the name Wali Ahmed Shoja. His DNA was taken at that time, but the case in Austria was later dismissed. As a result of this case, INTERPOL matched the defendant from the Austria rape to the rapes in Orange and San Diego Counties and determined that Achekzai was living in Salzburg, Austria.
He was arrested Jan. 26, 2010, at the Hotel Unterbrunn in the Austrian town of Neukirchen am Grossvenediger. He was arrested by the Salzburg Criminal Investigative Division (CID) in cooperation with the FBI.
The case against and arrest of Achekzai has been a coordinated effort between the TPD, OCDA, FBI and FBI Legal Attache in Vienna, Orange County Sheriff's Department, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and ICE Homeland Security Investigations, United States Marshals Service, United States Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, Toronto Police Services Fugitive Squad, INTERPOL, Salzburg CID, Austrian Federal Police, Austrian Ministries of Justice and Interior, SDPD and San Diego District Attorney's Office.
Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact TPD Detective Ryan Coe at (714) 573-3249 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Clint McCall at (714) 347-8521.
To see the full list of the OCDA's 10 most wanted fugitives, as well as former “most wanted” fugitives who have been captured, visit www.orangecountyda.com and select the “10 Most Wanted” icon on the homepage.
Deputy District Attorney Robert Mestman of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.