Originally created 11/06/02

Georgia tip helps FBI capture fugitive



The capture of one the FBI Top Ten Fugitives facing drug trafficking charges in U.S. District Court led to a quiet hearing Wednesday afternoon in the historic Augusta federal courthouse.

Four years after a federal grand jury issued an indictment with charges that involved tons of cocaine, millions of dollars, shootouts with police and a prison escape, the alleged ringleader with a series of aliases and an ever-changing appearance was captured in Venezuela on Tuesday afternoon.

"Are you James Spencer Springette?" U.S. District Magistrate Judge W. Leon Barfield asked the large man wearing a rumpled yellow dress shirt and blue jeans.

"Yes, your honor," Mr. Springette responded.

Mr. Springette's initial appearance in U.S. District Court occurred just 26 hours after Venezuelan authorities near the city of Caracas arrested him. According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the arrest was based on information provided by Georgia authorities.

About 1 p.m. Tuesday EST Venezuelan police spotted Mr. Springette and stopped a vehicle, according to the press release. He attempted to flee but was ultimately captured without incident. He had a number of false identification papers, but Mr. Springette's identity was confirmed by fingerprints, according to the Justice Department.

The FBI named Mr. Springette to the Top Ten list on April 25. His is the sixth Top Ten arrest this year and the 32nd capturein a foreign country.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.