By Miranda Simon
Special to the Almanac
Police responding Wednesday (Jan. 26) to a code-enforcement complaint in the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park found more than they expected: a fugitive on the run since 2004 after he was convicted of sexual assault.
Marco Vargas-Ortiz, 26, of Redwood City was arrested at the scene, in the 1200 block of Sevier Avenue, by Menlo Park police officers with the Narcotics Enforcement Team. He was booked him into San Mateo County jail.
No narcotics were involved in the case. Narcotics officers got involved because they work on code-enforcement complaints.
In 2003, Mr. Vargas-Ortiz and two other suspects were arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a victim under 14. Mr. Vargas-Ortiz was convicted in 2004.
Detective Ed Soares, the lead investigator in the case said he could not give any more details on the 2004 case. San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe was not immediately available for comment.
Officers who responded to the code-violation complaint said they observed an "illegal structure" in the rear yard of the site. The structure was "an add-on to the existing residence that had not been approved by the city with permits and is drawing electricity from main house," Detective Soares said. "It presented a fire hazard."
Police said they found several occupants inside, including Mr. Vargas-Ortiz. "We contacted two male adults and some younger children," Detective Soares said. "There were three bedrooms inside a small dwelling."
While on the premises, officers said they found and confiscated a pistol-grip assault shotgun but are unsure to whom it belongs. "It's not registered to anybody," Detective Soares said.
There are no immediate plans to evict the residents of the dwelling, he said. Police are working with homeowners to rectify the violation and are giving them a grace period to comply with the necessary permit. The length of the grace period has not been established, as police have not identified all the dwelling's residents yet, Detective Soares said.