- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 15, 2003

One of the U.S. Marshals Service’s “15 Most Wanted” fugitives has been taken into custody by Israeli national police, captured at a scuba-diving shop he operated in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, Israel.

Sidney Marvin Lewis, who had eluded capture since 1990, after being charged with trying to smuggle a ton of hashish into Oregon, was arrested Oct. 9 after new leads in the case pointed to Israel, the Marshals Service said.

“Before two months ago, people were chasing leads in Costa Rica,” said Marshals Service Senior Inspector Thomas C. Nunley, put in charge of the case in August.

He said the agency recently “employed some electronic surveillance techniques, conducted some interviews and as a result of some really good timing figured out Lewis was living in Israel.”

Fingerprint checks this week confirmed his identity. On Tuesday, Marshals Service Director Ben Reyna touted the arrest as a “major victory for law enforcement.”

With Lewis’ arrest, the agency yesterday added a new name to its 15 Most Wanted list. Reinier Kraan, 39, is wanted in Hawaii for the attempted distribution of methamphetamine and for an outstanding state probation warrant stemming from a 1997 conviction for burglary.

Annually, the Marshals Service arrests more than 50 percent of all federal fugitives and serves more federal warrants than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined. Last year, the agency cleared 38,249 federal fugitive warrants.

Lewis, 66, fled the United States a year after being charged in an October 1989 indictment with conspiracy to import and distribute hashish, a highly concentrated form of marijuana. He was accused of using a boat called the Lady Brigid to import the hashish, which was off-loaded at a docking facility on the Columbia River.

Authorities said Lewis is suspected of importing 25 tons of hashish.

Lewis originally was arrested near Columbia City, Ore., after U.S. Customs Service and Drug Enforcement Administration agents, along with Oregon State Police, seized a shipment of the hashish. Released for a holiday furlough to his home in Massachusetts, he failed to appear at a detention hearing in Oregon in early 1990 and has been on the run since that time.

Mr. Nunley said the case broke open when he developed a relationship with Lewis’ grown daughter, who lives in the United States.

“She basically reinforced what we had found out,” he said, adding she gave details about a trip she was taking to Israel. “What it comes down to is that you must trust somebody sometimes, and that’s what we did with her.”

When she made the trip early last month, agents from the State Department’s diplomatic security service photographed a man who met her at an Israeli airport who appeared to be Lewis, though they could not arrest him at the time because a 10-year statute of limitations for extraditing him had expired.

But once Lewis’ whereabouts were confirmed, Richard E. Lubow, a diplomatic security service agent, said authorities used a loophole in the statute. It allowed them to arrest a fugitive if they are able to prove they still were pursuing him after 10 years.

U.S. authorities gave Israel a 17-page report detailing their devotion to the Lewis case. The Israeli Ministry of Justice then issued a provisional warrant and apprehended Lewis. While authorities said he may fight extradition, he is being held in Israel pending removal proceedings.

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