Turnpike Fugitive Captured in Paraguay, Awaits Extradition
|FBI Newark December 14, 2009|
NEWARK, NJ—Special Agent in Charge Weysan Dun announced today the capture of Alberto Chavez, age 29, originally of Silver Spring, Maryland. Chavez was captured Friday night while attempting to cross the border between Paraguay and Brazil in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. Chavez is wanted and charged by the FBI in Newark, New Jersey for possession and distribution of approximately four kilograms of powder cocaine.
On August 28th of this year, Chavez and subject Bryant Benitez, age 25, of Washington, D.C., were observed in a rental vehicle with the cocaine by FBI agents and the New Jersey National Guard Counter-drug Task Force during a surveillance operation at the Vince Lombardi service area on the New Jersey Turnpike between Interchange 18E/18W in Ridgefield Borough, New Jersey. When agents approached the men, Chavez fled into the nearby swamp and avoided capture. Agents took Benitez into custody and seized the rental vehicle along with the almost four kilograms of cocaine inside, which has an approximate street value of a half-million dollars.
According to Paraguayan authorities, Chavez attempted to cross the border on the night of December 11 with a fabricated form of identification that combined Chavez’ brother’s information with Alberto Chavez’ picture. Chavez was detained for this reason, but later released due to an administrative error. However, the authorities later determined through Interpol that Chavez was wanted by the United States for narcotics trafficking and Paraguayan narcotics agents and police captured Chavez again in Puente de la Amistad, Paraguay on Saturday morning. This time, Chavez was jailed in the city of Asuncion where he remains. A Paraguayan judge signed a detention order giving the United States 60 days to file an extradition request.
“This capture is the fifth apprehension abroad this year of a fugitive wanted by the FBI in Newark,” remarked Weysan Dun. Dun referred to the captures of Gazmir Gjoka by Albanian police in November for narcotics trafficking; Edmund Osei by Ghanan Police in October for bank robbery; Edwin Pena by Mexican National Police in the Spring for cybercrimes (identity theft), and Nelson Marquez by Filipino authorities also in the spring for Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (Murder). “In this day and age, the FBI is truly global; our partnerships with law enforcement agencies around the globe make the world a much smaller place to hide. I extend our gratitude and appreciation to the law enforcement entities in Paraguay responsible for the capture of Mr. Chavez, the U.S. State Department, Interpol, our FBI Legal Attaché in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the New Jersey National Guard Counter-Drug Task Force, and the New Jersey State Police for their cooperative efforts in this matter.”
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. Despite this accusation, every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is not known at this time how long the extradition process will take. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Mahajan in the District of New Jersey.