Argentina is an attractive destination for idealistic students, young entrepreneurs, wine-loving retirees and also, it seems, for ‘outlaw expats’ looking to avoid facing charges in their home countries.
That was the case for Paul Merle Eischeid, who until last week held the number 15 spot on the U.S. Marshal’s Most Wanted list.
Eischeid was wanted on a long list of charges, including the 2001 kidnapping and murder of Cynthia Garcia in the U.S. state of Arizona. He was captured on February 3 in the upscale Buenos Aires’ suburb of San Isidro, where he lived with a local woman.
The Hell’s Angel motorcycle club member and former Charles Schwab stockbroker was arrested in 2003 on charges of drug trafficking and racketeering, but was permitted to await trial under house arrest because he had a steady white-collar job and minimal criminal record. He removed his court-ordered monitoring device and escaped shortly before Christmas in 2004.
He was put on the U.S. Marshal’s most wanted list in 2007 after he was implicated in the murder of Garcia. He eluded the law in Argentina with the help of the Argentine chapter of the Hell’s Angels (Spanish).
The outlaw biker was featured on the U.S. TV show, ‘American’s Most Wanted,’ profiled in the book, ‘No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels’ and even mentioned in the Buenos Aires Herald in 2008, when he may have already been living in the country.
Despite the intense media attention, Eischeid escaped capture for for eight years. It is suspected he spent six of those years residing in the leafy northern suburb of Buenos Aires and working as an auto mechanic in Berazategui. The 39-year old used the aliases Robert Tutokey and Jason Daniels. He was known to neighbors as ‘Tuto’ and was generally well-regarded. He had changed his appearance considerably but was easily identified by the numerous biker tattoos on his torso.
Argentina has a historically open immigration policy and has gained the reputation as an ideal hiding place for criminal fugitives. South America’s second largest country has a largely Caucasian population that makes it easy for white criminals to blend in, an expansive countryside, no death penalty and an underfunded, sometimes lackadaisical, federal police force.
In the early 1900’s Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, better known as ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ lived in Argentina for five years while they were wanted ‘dead or alive’ in the U.S. After World War II, at least 180 Nazi war criminals escaped to Argentina where many were able to peacefully live out their lives. In 2009, U.S. citizen, Isidro Hinojosa Benavides who later plead guilty to international child sex tourism charges was captured in the northern province of Mendoza.
Kurt Sonnenfeld, the main videographer who captured the images of the 9-11 terrorist attacks — and charges the U.S. had prior knowledge of the plot — was provided provisional refugee status eight years ago in Argentina. He has gained semi-celebrity status in Argentina and so far, federal judges have refused to extradite him to face charges that he murdered his first wife.