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For Immediate Release

Contact:
March 21, 2011 Deputy U.S. Marshal Alfredo Perez
Southern District of Texas: 713 539-5061;
Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Marco Villarreal

Southern District of Texas: 713 443-5565;
USMS Office of Public Affairs (202) 307-9065
U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted Fugitive Jessica Tata Captured in Nigeria

Jessica Renee Tata (Captured)

WASHINGTON – Jessica Tata, a U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted Fugitive, arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta shortly after 5:00 a.m. on a flight from Lagos International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. Tata was captured Saturday in Port Harcourt, Nigeria by Interpol and U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security agents.

In February, Tata, who owned and operated Jackie’s Day Care in Houston, allegedly left the premises leaving seven children alone in the house with a pot of oil on a burning stove resulting in a deadly fire.

Tata, 22, is wanted in Houston on four counts of manslaughter, six counts of reckless injury to a child, three counts of abandoning a child under 15 and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

After Harris County authorities discovered she had fled the local area, they referred the case to the U.S. Marshals Service Gulf Coast Violent Offenders and Fugitive Task Force.

The U.S. Marshals added the Texas daycare provider to their 15 Most Wanted fugitive list March 4. The U.S. Marshals worked domestically and with international investigative resources in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, to bring Tata to justice.

Since Friday, two Interpol – Lagos agents were in Port Harcourt working leads and information provided by the U.S. Marshals Service, Interpol Washington, and Department of State Diplomatic Security. Based on these leads, the IP – Lagos agents were able to locate Tata and take her into custody.

“When Jessica Tata chose to flee from the consequences of her actions that left four innocent children dead, we made her capture a top priority” said Geoffrey Shank, U.S. Marshals Service Acting Assistant Director of Investigative Operations Division. “I thank our deputies, and domestic and international partners, for their tireless persistence in bringing this fugitive to justice.”

“Diplomatic Security’s Regional Security Office in Nigeria maintains an excellent working relationship with local law enforcement personnel who helped facilitate Jessica Tata’s capture,” said Jeffrey W. Culver, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service. “With today’s announcement, Diplomatic Security, working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals, sends a strong message to criminals: there is no safe harbor outside the United States.”

"You cannot thumb your nose at the justice system, whether it be domestically or abroad,” said Elizabeth Saenz, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Texas. “Justice will be served. Jessica Tata has learned this thanks to the global efforts of the many and unknown.”

Investigative entities involved in the case are the USMS Gulf Coast Violent Offender and Fugitive Task Force, Houston Police Department, Houston Fire Department, Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Interpol Washington, the U.S. National Central Bureau, Interpol – Lagos, DOJ Office of International Affairs and the USMS Investigative Operations Division.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov

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