Man caught after 14 years faces drug smuggling chargesOne of the U.S. Marshals Service's 15 Most Wanted fugitives, Sidney Marvin Lewis, has been arrested in Israel - 14 years after fleeing charges of smuggling hashish into Oregon.
The head of the Marshals Service, Ben Reyna, called his capture "a major victory for law enforcement."
Lewis, 66, was arrested last week by Israeli National Police at a dive shop he operated in Eilat, a resort town on the Gulf of Aqaba in southern Israel. Fingerprint checks have confirmed his identity.
"Sidney Lewis eluded justice for 13 years, but his life as a fugitive is over because of the determination of Deputy U.S. Marshals and their law enforcement colleagues," said Reyna.
In September 1989, Lewis drew national attention to Columbia County when he was accused of using a docking facility on the Columbia River to import a shipment of 25 tons of hashish.
At the time, The Daily Astorian reported that his 158-foot ship, Lady Brigid, had been under surveillance by agents for six months. Customs agents said the high-grade marijuana, of Middle Eastern origin, had a potential street value of $600 million. It was reportedly bound for the Eastern and Southern United States and Canada.
According to newspaper archives, there was no trace of a "mother ship" which agents believed had been supplying the smaller vessel despite searches by U.S. Coast Guard and Customs Service personnel.
Lewis was one of seven people arrested in the raid. Officials said he bought and registered the seagoing vessel and used it to import the hashish. He was eventually named in a three-count indictment in October 1989 on charges of conspiracy to import with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.
He was held in Portland, but granted a holiday furlough to his home in Massachusetts in November 1989. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the furlough release and set a new detention hearing for January 1990. Lewis didn't show up and remained a fugitive until his capture last week.
Deputy marshals recently developed new information that Lewis may be living in Israel.On the NetU.S. Marshals Service: (http://www.usmarshals.gov) They worked with State Department diplomatic security agents stationed in the country to be on the lookout for the fugitive, marshals said. Once located, the Israeli Ministry of Justice issued a provisional arrest warrant and Lewis was taken into custody. Marshals from Oregon and agents with the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service participated in the arrest.
"The arrest of this high-profile U.S. fugitive clearly demonstrates the great successes that can be achieved through global law enforcement cooperation," said Ambassador Francis X. Taylor, assistant secretary for diplomatic security at the State Department.
Lewis being held in Israel pending removal proceedings.