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Fugitive Max Factor Heir Caught

Luster stands under arrest at the Puerto Vallarta Police Station, June 18, 2003, in Puerto Vallarta City, Mexico. He was picked up by Mexican police as he tried to escape bounty hunters who trailed him to this Mexican resort.
AP
Max Factor cosmetics heir and convicted rapist Andrew Luster was arrested Wednesday after five months on the run. He was picked up by Mexican police as he scuffled with bounty hunters who trailed him from California to this seaside resort.

Before dawn, the bounty hunters chased Luster in his car and managed to stop him, and a loud fight in the street followed as they tried to drag him from his car, investigator Jose Barrera Lopez said. Neighbors called police to complain about the noise.

When police arrived, they arrested Luster and five foreigners, Barrera said. The 39-year-old Luster initially gave police a false name, but later revealed his true identity.

Luster — dressed in a blue shirt and jeans and sporting a goatee grown since he jumped bail — nervously wrung his hands and ran his hands through his hair as police led him into a public area of the Puerto Vallarta station so that an Associated Press reporter could photograph him.

"I need help because they are trying to harm me," he said, referring to the bounty hunters.

FBI officials were expected to bring Luster to the United States later Wednesday, police official Irwin Ramirez Castellon said. The U.S. consul to Puerto Vallarta, Kelly Trainor, was seen arriving at the police station where Luster was detained, but did not make a statement.

The California court had sentenced Luster in absentia to 124 years for multiple counts of rape, poisoning and drug possession.

Luster's attorneys told CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales once he is returned to the United States, they will resume efforts to have his court sentence overturned. Such efforts were dismissed by the courts while Luster remained at large.


The Andrew Luster story. Tonight on 48 Hours. 10 p.m. ET/PT

The capture ended a hunt that began in January, when Luster — great-grandson of makeup legend Max Factor — disappeared during a recess in his trial on accusations he drugged three women and raped them in his home between 1996 and 2000.

In an exclusive interview with CBS News' 48 Hours before he disappeared, Luster painted the videotapes as innocent fun.

"It's one of those fun kind of things you do, you know?" he said. "Break out the video camera, put it on a tripod, let's see what it looks like. Let's videotape ourselves, then watch it. It's fun. A lot of couples do it. It's no big deal."

After the arrest Wednesday, Luster and the five other foreigners -- three bounty hunters and two journalists — were handed over to Mexican federal authorities on charges of being in the country illegally, Ramirez said. He said the five would be released on bail within two days.

Bounty hunting is considered illegal kidnapping under Mexican law. Barrera said it was not clear whether federal authorities would file additional charges against the bounty hunters.

Barry Novack, an attorney for one of Luster's alleged victims — identified only as "Shauna Doe" — said his client was "thrilled" to hear of the arrest. Shauna Doe testified in the criminal case and is suing Luster for sexual assault.

"Shauna has not been able to escape from the torment that she went through," Novack said. "Now we're waiting for civil justice to be done by bringing him to account for the terrible things he did to her and to the other women."

According to prosecutors, Luster — who lived off a trust fund and real estate investments — took three women to his Mussel Shoals home in 1996, 1997 and 2000 and raped them after giving them the so-called date-rape drug GHB. He was arrested in 2000 after a 21-year-old college student told police he had drugged and assaulted her.

A search of his home turned up videotapes of Luster having sex with women who appeared to be either asleep or unconscious. In one tape played in court after he disappeared, Luster is seen on camera having sex with a woman and declaring: "That's exactly what I like in my room: A passed-out beautiful girl."

His attorneys said the sex was consensual, suggesting the women were feigning sleep to help him film pornographic movies. They also disputed that Luster was a fugitive and suggested he could have been abducted or involved in an accident.

He skipped $1 million bail and fled on Jan. 3 in his sport utility vehicle, taking his collection of Chumash Indian artifacts.

Just last week, a California appellate court turned aside the appeal of Luster's conviction, saying he had forfeited his right to appeal by jumping bail. The California Supreme Court is expected to be asked to review the decision.