A 24-year-old Virginia man who fled the country earlier this year after being charged with arson in Maryland was arrested on Tuesday at Washington Dulles International Airport, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Jose Mejia Pineda had an active Maryland State Police warrant out for his arrest in relation to a car fire on Jan. 22 that consumed his 2009 Acura TL on a cul-de-sac in Dunkirk, in Calvert County, said Maryland Deputy Fire Marshal Bruce Bouch.
Police and fire investigators believe Pineda and his wife, Lesly Pineda, of Alexandria, started the fire themselves, and charged both with second-degree arson and insurance fraud, Bouch said.
"We were able to catch up with her, but he was able to get out of the country before we could put a stop to that," Bouch said. "Then he decided to return. I guess he wasn't expecting U.S. Customs and Border Protection to be paying attention."
That Pineda, a legal permanent resident of the United States on a flight from El Salvador, was flagged and arrested at the airport "shows the system is working," Bouch said.
Pineda has waived extradition proceedings and will be picked up and brought to Maryland by law enforcement officials, Bouch said Tuesday afternoon.
Estimated damage to the Acura was $18,500, Bouch said.
Second-degree arson carries a possible sentence of 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine, while insurance fraud carries a possible sentence of 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine, Bouch said.
Nationwide, U.S. Customs and Border Protection makes 54 criminal arrests per day.
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