Fugitive from Vancouver arrested in Mexico

FredEngh faces more than 50 criminal charges related to an organized crime ring

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 
photoFred James Engh

A Vancouver man who allegedly operated an organized crime ring throughout Washington, Oregon and Nevada was recently arrested in Mexico.

Fred James Engh, 30, allegedly fled the area while on bail for several felony charges, including leading organized crime, money laundering and theft. The United States Marshals Service, with help from Mexican authorities, found Engh in Rosarito, Mexico, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday.

He was transferred from Mexico to the San Diego County, Calif., jail, where he awaits an extradition hearing. Rosarito is south of Tijuana, on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Engh is accused of coordinating an organized crime operation involving shoplifters who stole merchandise from retailers and then returned it for store credit on gift cards. The shoplifters, known as “boosters,” then allegedly sold the cards to Engh below their actual value. He allegedly sold nearly $700,000 in fraudulently obtained gift cards through an online Amazon retailer over a three-year period. He reported income of $350,000 to the IRS for 2012 for what he viewed as his legitimate business.

Before his arrest in May, Engh was one of 20 members of the board for the Portland-based Meals on Wheels. The organization serves hot meals to seniors in need in the Portland-Vancouver metro area. Engh allegedly jumped his $100,000 bail and vanished sometime after a May 30 court hearing, where he pleaded not guilty to more than 50 criminal charges.

A warrant was issued for his arrest on July 26.

While police were trying to determine Engh’s whereabouts, his sister, Amanda Engh, appeared in court on several criminal charges related to the alleged crime ring. Prosecutors in September decided not to file charges — including money laundering, criminal profiteering and criminal conspiracy — against her.