Little Phil Alguin was a three-time loser discharged for time served in California. Little Phil had a long rap sheet: dope pusher, addict, fence, burglar, armed robber. A month after leaving prison Alguin killed an L.A.P.D. Detective whom he believed was following him. The gangster fled to Mexico. Mexico refused to extradite. Little Phil Alguin took to the comforts of Ciudad Juarez.
Meanwhile, the El Paso Police Department stood ready to do its part to nab a cop killer. The word "kidnap" was never spoken but that was the basic strategy. They slipped into Juarez for a few days to get the lay of the land. They learned that Little Phil Alguin was sensitive about a tattoo on his right forearm: a flower emblazoned with the words Arizona Phil
. Alguin had asked a few Juarez doctors if it could be removed but not one of them could manage the operation.
The cops planned to open a doctor's office in Juarez and advertise a new process for removing tattoos. When the killer dropped into the office--BAM--and then back across the International Bridge to El Paso. For veracity the cops took a quick course on hypodermics and anesthetic, bought some medical instruments for the office, a phony diploma to hang on the wall.
On Monday they rented a place in Juarez. On Tuesday they put a couple of ads in local papers and Little Phil walked through the door on Friday. Phil was administered chloroform while the stakeout cars got into position. Little Phil was groggy but not completely knocked-out. The El Paso cops stuffed the fugitive into a car and raced towards the bridge.
Little Phil was was soon wide awake and screaming that he was being kidnapped by gringos. A mob gathered to block the car. They El Paso cops were arrested and a lynch mob surrounded the jail. The Juarez press demanded the prisoners' execution.
El Paso Mayor Charlie Davis immediately appealed to the United States' Congress, the Governor of Texas, and Army Chief of Staff General John J. Hines. American troops moved down to the Mexican border.
Mexico relented and the El Paso cops were released after three days in jail. Little Phil Alguin was eventually extradited and tried for the murder of the Los Angeles detective. Convicted in 1923 and given a life sentence, Little Phil was paroled in 1953. He disappeared into Mexico and was never heard from again.