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After 19 years on the run, Oregon fugitive accused of sex crimes captured in Mexico

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Eric Francisco DeCleve, jail booking photo via KPTV/Portland

NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) — A man who police say fled prosecution 19 years ago for sexual assault crimes against young girls has been captured by authorities in Mexico and returned to Oregon.

Newport Police said in a news release Thursday that 43-year-old Eric Francisco DeCleve was returned to Newport this week through a joint effort by police, the FBI and Mexican officials.

Police say DeCleve was arrested in 1997 on multiple counts of rape and other charges for allegedly giving illegal drugs to girls who were 11 and 13 and sexually assaulting them. Police say DeCleve confessed to the crimes at the time and fled the country after posting bail.

Authorities say they weren’t able to find him until this year when they heard he was living under the assumed name of Eric Victor Munhoven Navarro in Cancun, Mexico, and was working as a surfing instructor.

According to KPTV in Portland, DeCleve is facing charges including first-degree rape, delivery of a controlled substance to a minor and first-degree sexual abuse. His bail was initially set at $250,000, but a judge raised it to $3 million on Thursday.