Longtime fugitive found in Mexico; he was selling resort time shares
Mexican police officials took Vincent Legrend Walters into custody Friday after a fingerprint analysis determined that he was a man federal agents had been seeking since September 1988.
The New York Times
When he fled the United States more than two decades ago, Vincent Legrend Walters was considered a violent drug dealer, accused of killing a woman in a botched kidnapping before vanishing, presumably with a small fortune.
But when agents from the U.S. Marshals Service last week tracked down Walters — who was on their list of the 15 most wanted fugitives — they were surprised to find him in a more sedate career: selling time shares to tourists in the Mexican resort town of Cancún.
"We were under the impression that he left with a good amount of money and thought he would have stayed in the illegal drug trade," Steve Jurman, a spokesman for the Marshals Service, said by telephone Sunday. "Now it appears that he had to work for a living."
At the behest of the Marshals Service, Mexican police officials took Walters, 45, into custody Friday after a fingerprint analysis determined that he was the man federal agents had been seeking since September 1988. He was arrested at his workplace at Cancún International Airport.
Walters, who was born in Mexico but grew up in California, was living in the San Diego area when he became mired in a dispute with other drug dealers over a cache of methamphetamine, according to the Marshals Service.
He had already appeared on the Drug Enforcement Administration's radar, the Marshals Service said in a statement, for reportedly buying $20,000 worth of chemicals to make methamphetamine and then, unbeknown to him, entering into negotiations with undercover agents for more supplies.
The year was 1988. An associate of Walters, fearing arrest, gave his supply of finished methamphetamine to another dealer, who then passed it on to someone else.
Walters, though, wanted the drugs back, the statement said.
The Marshals Service said Walters kidnapped the dealer who initially passed on the drugs, a friend of the dealer and the friend's girlfriend, a woman named Christina Reyes, and he offered to exchange them for the drugs, which were being held by a man named Jay Bareno.
Bareno agreed to the exchange and returned the drugs, the statement said. The two men were released, but Reyes died after she was gagged with a rag soaked in chemicals.
Walters disappeared after the episode.
It is unclear how he escaped, especially because he was under surveillance. His brother, Martin Walters, was arrested almost immediately and eventually convicted of participating in the kidnapping. He is in prison serving a sentence of 25 years to life.
In July 1989, a federal grand jury indicted Vincent Walters on conspiracy to manufacture, possess and distribute crystal methamphetamine, carrying firearms during a drug-trafficking crime and possession of unregistered firearms and explosives. His mother, Martha Walters, and her sister, Carmen Elenes-Fonseca, were sentenced to 37 months in prison in 1990 for trying to hire a hit man to kill two witnesses in the case against the Walters brothers.
The authorities said he was living under the name Oscar Rivera and working out of a stall in the Cancún airport. A spokesperson for the airport could not be reached for comment.