A suspect in a decade-long string of rape cases, two of which originated in Laguna Beach, is in custody in Austria after a DNA match through Interpol, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.
Ali Achekzai, 32, formerly of Ladera Ranch, is suspected of being an international serial rapist, the district attorney alleged.
Achekzai, who was on the district attorney’s 10 Most Wanted list, used multiple aliases and lived in various countries before he was apprehended Tuesday in an Austrian hotel after a DNA match.
Achekzai was booked under the name Ahmad Wali Shoja in Salzburg, Austria, after being picked up in a hotel.
He had immigrated to the U.S. in January 2001 from Kabul, Afghanistan, after requesting political asylum in the U.S. at San Francisco Airport, according to law enforcement authorities.
In October 2002, he is suspected of assaulting a woman in Laguna Beach in a limousine after meeting her in a bar. Two years later, he is suspected of following another victim from a Laguna Beach nightspot and raping her in Tustin. He is also accused of a sexual assault in San Diego County.
He is accused of fleeing the country after Tustin police issued a $500,000 warrant for his arrest Oct. 19, 2004. The warrant was subsequently increased to $1 million.
In Austria, he was accused of rape April 24, and his DNA was obtained, but the case was later dismissed. As a result of this case, Interpol matched the defendant to the rapes in Orange and San Diego counties, according to law enforcement.
Achekzai is accused of fleeing the U.S. illegally into Canada, and 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 suspected to have lived in Afghanistan, Germany, San Francisco, Canada, Austria and England.
The Orange County district attorney is filing multiple charges against the suspect:
two felony counts of forcible rape;
one felony count of aggravated assault;
one felony count of sexual penetration by foreign object by force;
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.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 53 years and four months to life in state prison.
Anyone with information or who believes they have been a victim should contact Tustin Police Detective Ryan Coe at (714) 573-3249 or Supervising Dist. Atty. Investigator Clint McCall at (714) 347-8521.