MEXICO CITY (AP) — Federal police in Mexico City have captured two convicted cigarette smugglers who escaped a U.S. penitentiary in Virginia earlier this month, U.S. and Mexican authorities said Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Justice identified the two as 35-year-old Salah Mohamed and 37-year-old Kamal Qazah of Columbia, South Carolina.
The department said "U.S. Marshals worked closely with Mexican law enforcement authorities to locate and apprehend" the pair.
The department said Mexico is expected to return both men, who were convicted for their roles in running cigarette smuggling rings in North and South Carolina.
Qazah was sentenced to 18 years. Mohamed also faces 20 years in prison for cocaine and heroin possession with intent to distribute.
Mexico's National Security Commission said the men did not have the proper travel documents to be in Mexico, and had been turned over to immigration authorities. That suggests they could be deported.
The commission said the two — along with a third man — were detained in a joint raid by federal police and immigration agents in downtown Mexico City.
The commission did not identify the men, but a federal official who was not authorized to be quoted by name confirmed they were the escaped fugitives cited by the Justice Department.
The commission said the two were Yemeni citizens, and the third had dual Australian-Jordanian citizenship.
It said one Yemeni man was captured outside a downtown hotel, and the other two were caught in inside.