SD fugitive wanted since 1997 arrested in Ariz.

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Steve Charles Durant By Andrew Michalscheck Steve Charles Durant By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX (AP) -- The U.S. Marshals Service says a man convicted in South Dakota of firearms charges and on the run for more than 15 years has been arrested in Arizona.

The service says members of a task force arrested Steve Charles Durant without incident Tuesday in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. He was living under an assumed identity.

According to the Marshals Service, Durant had been a fugitive since 1997, when he escaped from a community transition program after being released from prison.

"Durant's 16 year run as a fugitive ended when he was arrested while doing yard work on an East Mesa home," said David P. Gonzales, U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona. "Often, fugitives on the lam commit additional crimes to evade capture. This is one of the reasons the U.S. Marshals Service will continue to pursue fugitives until they are arrested."

Durant was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison after being convicted in 1991 in federal court in South Dakota on charges related to the unlawful possession and transfer of automatic weapons.

He awaits extradition to South Dakota.