Most-wanted US fugitive caught in Cancun, Mexico

July 15, 2012 - 3:37 AM
Mexico US Fugitive

This photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Vincent Legrend Walters. The U.S. Marshals Service says Vincent Legrend Walters, one of its 15 most-wanted fugitives has been caught in the Mexican resort city of Cancun. The service says Walters was captured Friday, July 13, 2012 and is being held on an extradition request. Walters faces murder charges in the 1988 death of a woman kidnapped as part of a drug deal, as well as weapons and drug charges. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshals Service)

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Mexican police arrested one of the U.S. Marshals Service's most-wanted fugitives in the resort city of Cancun, after 24 years on the run.

Suspect Vincent Legrend Walters is wanted in San Diego, California, on murder charges in the 1988 killing of a woman kidnapped as part of a drug deal. He also faces weapons and drug charges and is on the service's list of 15 most wanted fugitives.

The Marshals Service said Walters had been living in Cancun under the assumed name of Oscar Rivera and was working at the Cancun international airport. The service said he was arrested Friday and had been taken to Mexico City to await extradition procedures.

An official at Cancun's airport who was not authorized to be quoted by name said Walters was not an airport employee but rather had worked for a resort selling time-share vacation packages by staffing an information booth at the terminal for about a decade. Outside staffers at such booths are usually not subject to the same security reviews as airport employees.

The hotel complex for which Walters worked is in Puerto Morelos, just south of Cancun, the airport official said.

While Walters was using an assumed name, the Marshals Service said he "had boasted to people that he was a fugitive from San Diego and wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service."

Walters allegedly bought chemicals to make methamphetamines from undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents in 1988. An associate handed over the finished meth to a local dealer to hold. The dealer passed them on to yet another man.

When Walters wanted the drugs back, he kidnapped the dealer who had been holding the meth, his friend and the friend's girlfriend, offering the hostages in exchange for the return of the drugs. Two of the hostages were released.

However, the third kidnap victims, the girlfriend, died because she had been gagged with a chemical-soaked rag. Walter's brother Martin was convicted in the kidnapping and murder and is serving 25 years to life in prison.

"Thanks to the hard work of our deputy U.S. marshals, local law enforcement and Mexican law enforcement partners, we were able to bring Walters in to face the consequences for his laundry list of accused crimes.," said David Harlow, assistant director of the U.S. Marshals Service's Investigative Operations Division.