An American polygamist accused of child sex crimes in Arizona was caught after nearly 15 years on the run when Mexican authorities linked him to a triple homicide.
Orson William Black, 56, was turned over to US Customs and Border Protection officers on Wednesday, said CBP spokesman Ruben Jauregui. He is currently being held in El Paso, Texas, police said.
Black fled to Mexico in 2003 shortly after he was charged with sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor in Mohave County, Arizona, court records show.
He was additionally charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, according to a federal arrest warrant issued in 2005.
Black was arrested last weekend in a Mennonite camp in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, the Chihuahua Attorney General’s office said in a statement. It could not be determined Friday whether an attorney is representing Black.
Mexican authorities say they suspect Black is responsible for the murder of three American citizens but they have not yet pressed charges.
The three men, only identified as Robert W. B., 19, Jesse L. B., 23, and 15-year-old Michael B., were found September 10 outside Rancho Negro, an area near the Mennonite community where Black lived, officials said.
It’s unclear whether the victims were related to Black.
Authorities grew suspicious when members of Black’s “religious community” identified the victims but did not claim the bodies. The victims did not have birth certificates, officials said.
Mexican authorities then contacted the US consulate for help and discovered Black’s criminal record.
Following a two-day raid of his compound, Mexican authorities charged Black with human trafficking and possession of wildlife species, the state’s attorney general office said.
Twenty-six American citizens, including his four wives and several children who were on the five properties of Black’s compound were taken into custody, officials said.
They had been living illegally in Mexico in what authorities described as a commune.
At least two of them could not identify their country of origin because they had been living in the compound since an early age, said Chihuahua Attorney General César Augusto Peniche Espejel in a statement.
During the raid, officials also seized 65 bodies or heads of preserved exotic animals from various countries, including Mexico, such as zebras, buffaloes, a lion, and red foxes.
The compound is about 240 miles from the US-Mexico border in an area that’s known for its thriving agricultural land and for being a large Mennonite settlement.
Peniche Espejel said officials are investigating how Black was paying for his properties and goods in Mexico.