By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – After four years on the run, a man convicted of sexual battery in Lee County has been arrested in Mexico.
Juan Morales, 36, was arrested Sunday in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, by Mexican authorities. He was extradited to Mexico City where he remains in custody.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said that in 2006 Morales was accused of sexual battery of a child and bonded out but never appeared for his trial.
The trial was conducted in his absence in 2007, he was found guilty and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Johnson said authorities never gave up on bringing Morales to justice – his picture ran on the television show “America’s Most Wanted” and his name was on the FBI’s top fugitives list.
“We are glad to finally have this individual in custody so he can start serving his time,” said Johnson. “It was not easy getting him arrested over there.”
The Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force was involved in the case. Chris Felix, a member of the task force, said that despite knowing where Morales was, getting him arrested in Mexico was extremely difficult.
“It took almost three years to get the provisional arrest warrant issued for him,” said Felix. “He had family in that area, so we had an idea where he was but we had to deal with the court system over there.”
Felix said it could take from two months to a year before Morales is back on Mississippi soil. It is believed he has dual citizenship in Mexico and in the United States.