U.S. Marshals Arrest Wanted NWA, Tennessee Sex Offenders In Mexico
FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — A Level 3 sex offender who disappeared from Northwest Arkansas last summer has been arrested in Mexico, according to U.S. Marshals.
Stephen D. Morais was wanted for failure to register as a sex offender and violating probation. He had been missing since July 2017.
Morais pleaded guilty in 2011 to two federal counts of downloading child pornography. He was sentenced to 97 months in prison followed by a life time of supervised release, according to federal court documents.
Level 3 sex offenders are considered “high risk” and usually have a history of “repeat sexual offending,” according to the Arkansas Crime Information Center.
Fayetteville police asked for federal assistance when they learned Morais may have fled the country. U.S. Marshals from Arkansas worked with federal agents in Texas and the Mexico City Field Office, which eventually led them to Zacatecas, Mexico.
When marshal arrested Morais on Thursday (April 5), they found him living with another runaway sex offender — William Hulsey, Jr. — who was wanted in Tennessee.
Hulsey was convicted of possession of child pornography in Knoxville, Tenn., in 2009. Alongside thousands of images of child pornography on Hulsey’s computer, investigators also found evidence he planned to kidnap, rape, and burn a child to death.
Hulsey was sentenced to 120 months in prison, the maximum for possession of child pornography without a previous conviction.
Both men were extradited back to the U.S. on Friday (April 6).
U.S. marshals in Arkansas said cooperation between law enforcement agencies is vital in tracking down wanted sex offenders.
“It’s not unusual for sex offenders to take off, and we got a lot of help from Fayetteville police,” said Cory Thomas, Senior Inspect for the U.S. Marshals Service for the Western District of Arkansas.
“We also have a good relationship with the Federal Police in Mexico.”
Between July 2006 and July 2017, U.S. Marshals arrested more than 100,000 wanted sex offenders across U.S. and other countries
There are more than 11,000 registered sex offenders living in Arkansas, according to the state crime information center.
In Arkansas, sexual offenders are assigned to one of four levels based on a risk assessment process: Level 1: low risk; Level 2: moderate risk; Level 3: high risk; Level 4: sexually violent predator.
State law also requires registered sex offenders to publicly disclose their name, address and date of birth.
The most recent data show 567 registered sex offenders living in Washington County, while 547 were listed for Benton County.