Fugitive captured in Mexico after 19 years on the run

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Newport – A man who police say fled prosecution 19 years ago for sexual assault crimes has been captured by authorities in Mexico and returned to Oregon, authorities said on Thursday.

Eric Francisco DeCleve, 43, was returned to Newport this week through a joint effort by police, the FBI and Mexican officials, Newport Police said in a news release.

DeCleve was arrested in 1997 on multiple counts of rape and other charges for allegedly giving illegal drugs to girls who were 11 and 13 and sexually assaulting them. Police say DeCleve, who was 24 at the time, confessed to the crimes and fled the country after posting bail.

Authorities said they were given a tip in 2004 that he was in Mexico but they weren't able to find him until this year when they heard he was working in Cancun.

The investigation determined DeCleve was working as a surfing instructor and living under the name Eric Victor Munhoven Navarro. The FBI worked with Mexican officials to capture and extradite DeCleve to the United States for trial.

He was arrested on charges including two counts of first-degree rape, one count of second-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree sodomy and four counts of delivery of controlled substance to a minor.

It wasn't immediately clear if DeCleve had an attorney. He has been jailed in Newport with bail set at $3m.

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