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Man wanted for smuggling marijuana in Texas captured in Utah after 20 years as a fugitive

Posted at 6:19 AM, Jan 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-10 14:23:39-05

MIDVALE, Utah -- A fugitive who skipped out on a prison sentence in Texas and eluded authorities for 20 years was arrested in Utah Wednesday night.

US Marshals captured Juan Valdez-Valenzuela around 9 p.m. Wednesday after deputies in Texas working his case contacted Utah authorities with a tip.

Investigators say Valdez-Valenzuela brought 350 pounds of marijuana across the border into El Paso, Texas. They said the marijuana was stashed inside propane bottles and the man was smuggling for a cartel.

Valdez-Valenzuela was sentenced to 8 years in federal prison for that crime but fled Texas before serving his time.

"[Texas authorities] have been working it for six years, so they were pretty excited when they found out about this place called Midvale, Utah," said Deputy Derryl Spencer of the US Marshals Service. "They called me up and wanted to know if I knew where that was. I said, 'Yes, of course I do.' They sent us the information, so they're real happy we caught him."

Valdez-Valenzuela will be extradited to Texas.