12/19/2005

13 Louisiana fugitives captured in Texas after applying for federal aid

By KRISTIE RIEKEN
Associated Press Writer

HOUSTON- Thirteen fugitives wanted for violent crimes in Louisiana have been captured in Texas after applying for federal aid as refugees from Hurricane Katrina, authorities said Monday.

Investigators with the attorney general's fugitive unit found the 11 men and two women in November and December, using Federal Emergency Management Agency aid information.

The list identified 29 violent fugitives in Texas. Among the 16 still at large are three wanted in connection with killings.

Most of the 13 were wanted on parole or probation violations. Four were wanted on charges of assault, four on robbery and three on sex offenses. One was wanted for failure to appear on stalking charges and one was wanted on weapons charges.

"These are people who have committed very serious crimes in Louisiana who were using the Hurricane as an opportunity to escape the long arm of the law in Louisiana," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said.

Thousands of Louisiana evacuees took refuge when the storm ripped into New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29.

Law enforcement officials got the list about a month ago after confronting government bureaucracy and getting "lame excuses," Abbott said.

"We could have arrested these people a lot quicker had FEMA been a lot quicker in providing us the information we needed," he said.

Abbott said investigators were able to catch the fugitives because they provided their addresses to FEMA to receive aid.

"It is kind of crazy that these people who were fugitives from the law were signing up with a governmental agency for benefits," he said.

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