(CNN) — Leonard Francis, the former military contractor known as “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated the largest corruption scandal in US Navy history, was arrested by Venezuelan authorities at the request of the US Marshals Corps, according to the agency.
Francis, who was arrested Tuesday morning, is currently being held by authorities in Venezuela and US government officials have initiated proceedings with Venezuela in an attempt to seek extradition, the deputy supervisor of the US Department of Defense told CNN on Wednesday. Marshals Corps, Omar Castillo.
US federal police had previously filed a so-called “Red Circular” with the multinational law enforcement organization INTERPOL after Francis went on the run earlier this month, Castillo said. A Red Notice is a global request to participating INTERPOL members to provisionally arrest a wanted suspect pending further legal action, such as extradition.
The former contractor escaped house arrest in San Diego two weeks ago by cutting his GPS monitoring anklet, Castillo told CNN at the time.
He escaped only three weeks before he was sentenced.
Francis, whose nickname “Fat Leonard” comes from his then weight of 180kg, pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges in 2015.
The investigation into the corruption scandal began in 2013 and spanned capitals and ports across the Pacific, including Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok and Manila. During the investigation, several Navy officials were arrested and charged with accepting cash, prostitutes and all-expenses-paid trips in exchange for taking ships to ports where Francis’ contracting company, which provided services such as fuel and tugboats, operated. .
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