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Murder suspect caught in Mexico after 24 years on the run

July 15, 2012 |  7:45 am

Vincent Legrend WaltersA murder and kidnapping suspect captured in Mexico after 24 years on the run is expected to be extradited to California soon.

Vincent Legrend Walters, 45, was captured in Cancun.

He was wanted in the 1988 kidnapping and murder of a woman named Christina Reyes in San Diego. The killing allegedly stemmed from a drug deal gone bad.

According to the U.S. Marshals, Walters had been caught up in an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency operation in 1988, involving a $200,000 methamphetamine deal.

One of Walters' business associates reportedly became paranoid and handed the drugs off to a local dealer. Walters tracked the dealer down, seeking to get the drugs back, but the man had already passed the meth on to a friend named Jay Bareno.

Walters allegedly then kidnapped the drug dealer along with a friend and Reyes, the friend's girlfriend, and demanded that Bareno give the drugs back in exchange for their release. Reyes died while she was held hostage, after she was gagged with a chemically saturated rag, authorities said.

The other two hostages were released in exchange for the drugs.

Walters' brother, who took part in the scheme, was captured soon after and convicted of kidnapping and murder, but Walters fled, authorities said.

Authorities finally tracked him down in the Mexican resort town of Cancun, where he was living under the name Oscar Rivera and working at the Cancun International Airport. The Associated Press reported that an airport official said Walters worked in a booth at the terminal for a resort selling time-share packages.

The U.S. Marshals said Walters had "boasted to people that he was a fugitive from San Diego and wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service."

Mexican authorities worked with the U.S. Marshals Service to locate and arrest Walters, who was taken into custody Friday morning.

He will be transported to Mexico City to face extradition to San Diego, where he will face murder and drug charges. A federal grand jury indicted Walters in 1989 on charges of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, carrying firearms during drug trafficking and possession of unregistered firearms and explosives.

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— Abby Sewell

Photo: Vincent Legrend Walters. Credit: U.S. Marshals Service

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