IRA Fugitives Held in San Francisco, San Diego
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Two Irish Republican Army fugitives who escaped from prison in Northern Ireland eight years ago have been captured in California, authorities said Thursday.
James Smyth and Kevin Barry John Artt were among 38 IRA members who broke out of Maze Prison 14 miles west of Belfast in September 1983, federal officials said. Fifteen are still at large.
Artt, 34, was serving a life sentence for killing the prison’s deputy warden in 1977. Smyth, 38, was serving a 20-year sentence for trying to kill a prison officer.
The FBI said that on Wedesday morning, agents in San Diego seized Artt and agents in San Francisco seized Smyth. Details of the captures weren’t released, but according to a court document filed by FBI agent Stockton Buck, Smyth had been under surveillance in San Francisco for more than a month.
A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Artt and Smyth on passport fraud charges Wednesday. U.S. Attorney William McGivern said he expected British officials would also pursue charges against them.
According to court papers, the two tried to apply for passports using the identities of twin brothers born in San Francisco in 1956 who died when they were teen-agers.
Buck said the passport information and other documents were uncovered after fingerprint records of IRA fugitives were checked in parts of the United States where support for the Northern Irish cause was strong.
The IRA wants to drive the British from Northern Ireland, which remained a part of Great Britain after the Irish defeat of British forces in the Anglo- Irish war of the 1920s.