International manhunt for Phoenix murder suspect endsPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- An international manhunt for man wanted for murder in Phoenix has ended with an arrest.
This weekend's arrest wraps up nearly 10 years of investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement -- all to bring a brutal crime syndicate to justice.
Police had Lazar Yousif Lazar in custody last spring, but while out on bail, he fled the country. After leading law enforcement through Europe and the Middle East, U.S. Marshals caught up with Lazar in Iraq.
Lazar, 33, was wanted for his alleged involvement in a criminal syndicate investigated by the Phoenix Police Department and the Department of Public Safety.
"What the syndicate was alleged to have done is rip off other drug dealers, take their money, kidnappings, steal their drugs and resell them," said David Gonzales, of the U.S. Marshals District of Arizona.
DPS launched its investigation back in 2000. As arrests were made, the syndicate allegedly put out a hit on the lead investigator.
"They were surveying his house," Gonzales said. "They had pictures. They even had dug a grave in the desert to put this DPS officer's body."
All six of the syndicate suspects were arrested.
While out on bond last March, Lazar failed to appear in court on charges of first-degree murder, assisting a criminal street gang, aggravated assault and robbery.
U.S. Marshal tracked Lazar throughout Europe.
"We assumed that he was going to be ending up in Iraq because of his family ties and that's what he eventually did do," Gonzales said.
Iraqi police took Lazar into custody.
Lazar arrived in Washington D.C. and was handed over to the Marshals Saturday night. He has been booked and will be held there until he can be returned to Arizona.