Fugitive who taunted U.S. captured in Mexico

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A fugitive who evaded arrest for a more than a decade and taunted U.S. investigators, saying they would never catch him, has turned himself in to U.S. authorities in Monterrey, Mexico, authorities said on Tuesday.

Agents with Mexico’s Agencia Federal de Investigacion (AFI) were closing in on Arthur Lopez, Jr., and he surrendered at the U.S. consulate in Monterrey on Monday night, said Kevin Carr, United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Lopez, 29, was wanted in connection with three drug-related slayings and on drug charges as the lone member of a notorious family drug dealing ring who was still at large.

Lopez had been featured on the Fox Television program “America’s Most Wanted” and an anonymous caller led investigators to Monterrey earlier this year. The search intensified over the last month when investigators learned Lopez was using the alias Roberto Gonzalez-Orozco.

Lopez was wanted for his role in three 1999 drug-related slayings, including the brutal murder of Carlos “Hollywood” Hernandez, a rival gang member who claimed to have quit to become a community activist.

Lopez allegedly drove the car for an associate in an August 1999 drive-by shooting that killed Maximillano Castillo, 19, and 15-year-old Vanessa Rivas.

Along with his father, Arturo Lopez Sr., and uncle, Julian “Big Dog” Lopez, the alleged leader of the ring, Lopez ran the family drug-trafficking enterprise using acts of intimidation and deadly violence.

Authorities and investigators believe the ring is responsible for several drive-by shootings and at least six homicides, and that Arthur Lopez was responsible for locating the group’s drug sources, setting prices and acting as a ruthless enforcer.

Following a bloody gang turf battle for a stretch of 10th Street on Milwaukee’s South Side in December 1999, police rounded up a dozen of the gang’s members, including Lopez’s father and uncle. Each has been sentenced to life terms in prison.

In 2006, after Lopez was featured on “America’s Most Wanted,” he made a taunting phone call to the U.S. Marshals Service from a pay phone in Hartford, Connecticut.

According to the Marshals Service, Lopez left a voicemail: “You think you can catch me? You think you can arrest me? Hey, Doug! I’m waiting.” He was referring to Deputy U.S. Marshal Doug Bachert, one of the investigators hunting him.

Lopez was awaiting extradition proceedings in Mexico City before being brought back to Wisconsin to face charges in federal and state courts, authorities said.