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Nevada fugitive arrested in Mexico

A man charged with killing his estranged wife and suspected in the sniper shooting of a Nevada judge was in custody early Friday, authorities said.
Darren Mack, seen in custody at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, was caught after failing to turn himself in Thursday.
Darren Mack, seen in custody at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, was caught after failing to turn himself in Thursday.Charles Hadlock / NBC News
/ Source: The Associated Press

A wealthy former pawn shop owner wanted in the death of his estranged wife and the sniper shooting of a judge was in custody Friday after surrendering at a hotel on Mexico’s Pacific coast, authorities said.

Darren Mack was arrested late Thursday in Puerto Vallarta, U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza said in a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Garza and FBI spokesman David Straretz said Mack would be escorted back to Nevada later Friday.

“The arrest of accused killer Darren Roy Mack proves that criminals cannot find a safe haven on either side of the border,” the ambassador said.

Mack had contacted Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick earlier this week and “expressed a desire to surrender,” Police Chief Michael Poehlman said at a news conference Thursday. Gammick said Mack arranged to turn himself in at the U.S. consulate in Puerto Vallarta but failed to show up.

Gammick also said that Mack has contacted his Reno lawyer, Scott Freeman, but he wouldn’t provide details. Freeman was unavailable for comment Friday, his office said.

Mack, 45, is charged with murder in the stabbing death of his estranged wife, whose body was found June 12 in a pool of blood in his townhouse garage. The same day, Family Court Judge Chuck Weller was shot in the chest as he stood near his courthouse office window.

Weller, who survived and has been recovering under guard at an undisclosed location, had been handling the couple’s divorce case. No charges have yet been filed in the shooting.

Added to 'Most Wanted' list
The FBI added Mack to its list of “Most Wanted” fugitives Tuesday, the same day Charla Mack, 39, was buried.

He was considered armed and dangerous, “with access to all types of weapons,” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said. A search warrant affidavit said officers found several boxes of ammunition and an empty gun case with a receipt for a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle equipped with a laser sighting device at Mack’s townhouse.

Mack was a co-owner of Palace Jewelry & Loan Co. Inc., a pawn shop, until he turned over control in 2005 to his mother, a lawyer for the business said. He had a net worth of $9.4 million as recently as 2004, according to court documents.

Weller released a statement Thursday, saying: “It is our greatest hope that no further bloodshed occur in this matter. ... We sincerely hope that law enforcement is successful in bringing this matter to a peaceful conclusion.”