Wanted by the FBI: dead or alive

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Almost twenty years after he went on the run, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a $10,000 reward for the capture of fugitive Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes pictured in 2000, one of the accused in the 1996 fatal McDonnell Douglas DC-9 crash of ValuJet Flight 592 in the Florida Everglades. All 110 people on board were killed in the tragedy.

On April 6, 2000, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Valenzuela-Reyes in the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, after he was charged with disobedience and resistance to lawful order and command of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and failure to appear for trial. Valenzuela-Reyes was previously charged on July 13, 1999, with conspiracy to make false statements to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation; false statements to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation; and causing the transportation of hazardous material.

On May 11, 1996, Flight 592 crashed in the Florida Everglades, killing all 110 people on board. Investigation led to the indictment of an aircraft repair facility in Florida, and three of its employees, including Valenzuela-Reyes, then a mechanic, in connection with improperly packaged chemical oxygen generators that were loaded on Flight 592 and signed off by company employees despite lacking safety caps. Valenzuela-Reyes is the final employee wanted in connection with this incident.

A new wanted poster has been issued that shows an array of photos of the fugitive as he appeared in 1996 and how he might appear today. The FBI notice says that Valenzuela-Reyes has connections to Atlanta, Georgia, where his ex-wife and kids have resided, and Santiago, Chile, where he has family and may be residing today under a false identity. He may be in Chile and may travel to Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia, and other South American countries. He has ties to Georgia in the United States of America.

Valenzuela-Reyes was born in La Calera in Chile in April 1969, making him 49 years old at present. According to the FBI, he is 5’10” to 6’0″ (1.77m to 1.82m) in height. The airframe and power plant (A&P) mechanic, formerly Federal Aviation Administration certified, “may be living under a false identity.” Not that he lacks one of those: the FBI says he has the following known aliases: Mauro Valenzuela-Reyes, Mauro Valenzuela, Mauro O. Valenzuela, Mauro Ociel Valenzuela, Reyes Mauro Valenzuela, Mauro Valenzvela-Reyes and Mauro Reyes.

In April, the FBI Miami office announced the reward and released age-progressed images of fugitive. If any Air Cargo Week reader recognises Valenzuela-Reyes or has any information concerning this person, they are asked to contact their local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.