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For Immediate Release

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March 06, 2012 U.S. Marshal Stephen J. Smith, Southern District of Georgia (912) 652-4212
13 Year Fugitive Captured in Florida

SERFTF LogoSavannah, GA – A Federal prison escapee on the run since May of 1999, was arrested by members of the Miami Office of the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force on March 5, 2012 based on an investigation conducted by the Savannah Office of the United States Marshals Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Humberto Messa-Perez, 57, was wanted by the United States Marshals Service for the Southern District of Georgia for Escape from the Custody of the Attorney General. Anyone sentenced to serve a Federal Prison sentence is in the custody of the Attorney General. Messa-Perez was originally convicted in the Southern District of Florida, Miami, Florida for Conspiracy to Possess with intent to Distribute at least 5 Kilograms of Cocaine in February of 1991. In April of 1991, Messa-Perez was sentenced to 121 months in Federal Prison to be followed by a 5 year term of Supervised Release. At the time of his escape Messa-Perez was serving his sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Jesup, Georgia. On May 29, 1999, Messa-Perez failed to make the 10:00am count and was placed on Escape status and the Marshals were notified.

The initial investigation conducted by the Marshals in Brunswick, Georgia sent leads to the Miami Marshals Office in 1999 to interview family members in an attempt to find Messa-Perez. Those efforts in 1999 did not prove fruitful as Messa-Perz remained at large. Messa-Perez is a Cuban national and one of his concerns while in federal prison was that he would be deported upon his release from custody.
The case has been assigned to three different investigators over the years who have transferred or retired. Convicted drug dealers are a high priority for the Marshals Service, when they become fugitives. As such, we work these cases until we catch them. In August of 2011, the case was assigned to Supervisory Deputy Tommy Long, who conducted an extensive investigation to find Messa-Perez. As basically a cold case, Deputy Long started with the basics by running computer database checks to locate family members and former girlfriends of Messa-Perez.

Since it has been thirteen years, Messa-Perez and his family probably thought no one was looking for him and he may have gotten comfortable. However the Marshals have a long memory and continually work their open fugitive cases. Leads were sent to Nevada and Southern Florida which generated a new address in Miami, FL. This information was forwarded to the Miami Office of the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force. On Friday March 2, 2011, investigators observed a man thought to be Messa-Perez outside the residence, but thought it prudent not to confront him at the time. On Monday, March 5, 2012, investigators were conducting surveillance at the address of 4711 NW 18th Ave, Miami, FL and observed the same man getting into a vehicle. The Miami Marshals confronted the man and when asked his name said “Humberto”. Humberto Messa-Perez was arrested without incident. Upon his arrest, Messa-Perez asked “How did you find me, I had nothing in my name”. Also upon his arrest, Marshals found in Messa-Perez’s possession a social security card, a Bank of America Visa Debit card in the name of someone else, and also a Florida driver’s license in someone else’s name. Messa-Perez has gone to extraordinary efforts to avoid capture for the last thirteen years. Individual Deputy Marshals do great work, but as a team, they are the best at what we do and that is catch fugitives. We will work cases, even if it takes thirteen years to find them. This case is an excellent example of Marshals Service team work spanning three different states to get a fugitive caught.

This case embodies the motto of the United States Marshals Service “You Can Run, But You Cannot Hide”. Through the unwavering perseverance of a Deputy Marshal, another fugitive has been taken off the streets. Messa-Perez will have a hearing before a Federal Magistrate in Miami, Florida to return him back to the Southern District of Georgia.

Annually, investigations carried out by the U.S. Marshals result in the apprehension of over 36, 000 federal fugitives. More federal fugitives are arrested by the Marshals Service than all other federal agencies combined. In 2011, U.S. Marshals led task forces arrested more than 86,000 state and local fugitives, which cleared over 113,000 warrants.

The Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force has three offices: Atlanta, Macon, and Savannah. The task force covers the whole state of Georgia. The Savannah Office of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force is a team comprised of investigators from the Georgia Department of Corrections, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department, the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, the McIntosh County Sheriff’s Department, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department, the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Department, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department, and the United States Marshals Service. The task force objective is to seek out and arrest fugitives charged with violent crimes, drug crimes, sex offenders, and other felonies.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.

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