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U.S. Posts $2.2M Reward for Killer

October 1, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. government offered a record $2.2 million reward Thursday for the capture of a Mexican fugitive accused of murdering an undercover U.S. agent during a drug purchase in 1994.

The reward was posted for one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives, Augustin Vasquez Mendoza, believed to be 26, a native of Apatzingan, Mexico.

Vasquez Mendoza is believed to have fled to Mexico after the June 30, 1994, killing of Richard Fass, an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Vasquez Mendoza is believed to be still hiding in Mexico.

Working undercover, Fass was fatally wounded in Glendale, Ariz., by henchmen of Vasquez Mendoza as Fass was buying 22 pounds of methamphetamine from them for $160,000, the government said.

``Special Agent Fass was murdered by Vasquez Mendoza and his criminal associates,″ said Drug Enforcement Administrator Thomas Constantine. ``The two triggermen were arrested as they fled the scene and the third accomplice as captured in Los Angeles a few days later. The criminal mastermind, Vasquez Mendoza, escaped. We are committing all our resources to capturing this murderous coward.″

Constantine said he hoped the sizeable reward would bring in new leads and expected that ``Vasquez Mendoza’s days as a free man are numbered.″ DEA agents in Phoenix are operating a toll-free number, 1-888-853-4961, around the clock to receive any tips.

Previously, the DEA and FBI had offered $250,000 for Vasquez Mendoza, but the amount was boosted Thursday by the State Department’s counternarcotics rewards program. That program, established in 1986, has been used to help capture major narcotics traffickers.

``Because Augustin Vasquez Mendoza is also alleged to have been a participant in the 1994 murder of DEA special agent Richard Fass, we wanted to use this program to show how serious we are about ensuring his capture and arrest,″ said Rand Beers, acting assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs.

The government describes Vasquez Mendoza as 5-feet-3, 110 pounds, with brown hair and eyes and a 3-inch scar on his right forearm and two front teeth partially capped in silver. He has worked as a mechanic and has lived in Glendale and Phoenix.

He is armed and dangerous and citizens should report any information to the FBI or DEA rather than trying to capture him themselves, the government said. He faces federal charges in this country of first degree murder and flight to avoid prosecution.

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