W.Va. Waits To Get Fugitive

WHEELING – U.S. Marshals are not saying when Eugene Cobbs will be returned to West Virginia to face escape charges.

On Monday, Mexican authorities nabbed Cobbs, more than a year after he escaped from a minimum security prison in Morgantown. He was deported following his arrest, and transported to Los Angeles, according to information provided by the U.S. Marshals Service. Federal marshals arrested Cobbs at Los Angeles International Airport upon his arrival, and he is being held without bond pending extradition to West Virginia.

Cobbs, 43, crashed an Aerostar airplane holding 525 pounds of cocaine – worth $24 million – at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport in December 2004. He fled the scene and paid a driver to take him to a hotel near Weirton.

The search for Cobbs ended in 2008, when federal marshals arrested him in Houston, Texas, after Mexican authorities deported him on immigration violations. A federal judge in Wheeling in 2010 sentenced him to more than 12 years in prison on the drug charges. It was the largest amount of narcotics ever located in West Virginia at the time.

In April 2013, federal authorities said Cobbs walked away from the federal prison in Morgantown, and caught a bus to Philadelphia. Deputy U.S. Marshal Terry Moore, the lead investigator in the case, said Cobbs was very elusive, using false names and living in multiple locations. Upon his arrest, he initially provided a fictitious name, but was later positively identified and deported by Mexican authorities.

“As soon as I heard the name of the escapee, I knew this might be a tough case,” Moore said. “The number of hours our agency put into this case was tremendous, and I am excited to see it come to an end.”

Moore called Cobbs “a sophisticated fugitive” who has extensive ties to Mexico. He said the challenge of tracking and finding Cobbs was tough but rewarding.

“Cases like this one is what a deputy U.S. marshal lives for: A challenge, a good hunt and a great ending,” Moore said. “Cobbs’ current location is right where he should be – in a jail cell.”

Cobbs allegedly did not act alone in his escape. Federal authorities indicted Jamie Angel Clayton, 39, for aiding the escape. Clayton was arrested in May 2013 in New York and remains on bond while the criminal case is pending.