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Armed US Most Wanted Fugitive And Ukraine War Veteran Captured Near Vatican

Last week, Moises Tejada, 54, was found with three concealed knives in St Peter's Square near the Vatican

An armed and dangerous fugitive on a US most-wanted list was arrested during a Papal audience in the Vatican last week. After fleeing the United States he lived briefly in Ukraine where he fought against the Russian invasion.

Moises Tejada was cuffed by Italian police in Rome last week. He was reportedly carrying three large concealed knives while in the crowded St. Peter’s Square near the Vatican. The arrest occurred on April 10th during a papal audience, which drew a large number of tourists and pilgrims to the area. The knives Tejada possessed were each over a foot long.

It is unclear if the 54 year old planned to use these weapons on the Pontiff or other individuals in the vatican.

“Tejada has convictions for robbery and kidnapping and is classified as “violent”. The OSI website states that all those on its list should be considered “armed and dangerous” and advises members of the public not to approach them,” said the Office of Special Investigations New York.

According to initial reports by Italy’s la Repubblica, the officers didn’t know who Tejada was when they stopped him, but their instincts led them to search when the weapons were uncovered. Tejada stands six feet tall, does not have tattoos, but has distinguishing scars on his face and right hand according to descriptions given by sources.

Tejada was wanted for a series of robberies in which he lured his victims under a false pretence.

Tejada was wanted for an incident that occurred in Suffolk County, New York. There Tejada, posing as a potential client hand handcuffed a real estate agent to a pole and stole his car and other possessions. He committed a similar crime in Brooklyn, New York during the same period. The incidents date to 2004.

Investigators traced Tejada’s movements, discovering he recently arrived in Rome from Moldova. Prior to that, he had spent time in Ukraine. Tejada told authorities he had been in Ukraine since 2022, fighting against the Russian invasion in an attempt to start a new life.

He had arrived in Italy 10 days prior to his arrest according to his statement. It is unclear what passport he travelled under. AS of April 24th, the Italian judicial authorities are waiting to hear if their US counterparts want to extradite him. It remains unclear whether Tejada posed any threat to the Pope. Pope Francis held a general audience the day of the arrest, drawing large crowds of tourists and pilgrims to St. Peter’s Square on the day that Tejada was apprehended.  It is unclear if he obtained his weapons while in Italy or brought them into the country.

The OSI website states that all those on its list should be considered “armed and dangerous” and advises members of the public not to approach them.

–Additional reporting by Judy Rotich

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