Duane “Dog” Chapman is known worldwide for catching criminals who skip out on bail, but jumping bail in Mexico three years ago has now landed the bounty hunter behind bars. Chapman, whose larger-than-life personality is the heart of a popular reality TV series, was picked up by federal marshalls yesterday as government officials responded to an extradition request from Mexican authorities. Chapman’s son Leland and colleague Tim Chapman were also arrested. In 2003, Duane Chapman led a group of bounty hunters and a camera crew to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to hunt down convicted rapist Andrew Luster, who had evaded U.S. law enforcement for over six months. They captured Luster, who was eventually sentenced to 124 years in jail. But bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, and Chapman and his crew were arrested for kidnapping. They posted $1,500 bail each, but then left the country. International fame and TV series followed, but Mexican authorities have apparently not forgotten the case. Yesterday, prosecutors argued that the men should be held without bail until their extradition hearing, since the case is international. Chapman’s attorney noted, however, that Chapman has a very high profile and strong ties to the community, and would not flee. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren seemed to concur, but held off deciding on bail until a hearing this afternoon.
The arrests came just as filming for the upcoming third season of the popular A&E series was wrapping up, so it will likely not affect the show in the short term. The TV crew was on hand at the courthouse yesterday, as Chapman’s wife Beth defended her husband and thanked the public for their support.
Although the TV show has been a runaway success, Chapman has had his share of troubles.
Just yesterday, Chapman was sued by Roy Barnes, the owner of a motel in Colorado Springs. Chapman’s team and a film crew showed up at his motel last June, and a confrontation between Barnes and the bounty hunters was broadcast on the show. Barnes claims that every time the episode airs, he is subject to harassment from Chapman’s fans.
A similar lawsuit is pending in San Francisco, after Chapman and local police mistakenly grabbed a man they thought was a bail jumper.