MIAMI (AP) – The Camano Island teenager who police call the “Barefoot Bandit” was extradited back to the United States on Tuesday, just hours after he pleaded guilty to a minor offense in the Bahamas.
Law enforcement officials escorted Colton Harris-Moore on a commercial flight to Miami to face prosecution for a two-year string of break-ins and plane thefts across the United States. The FBI took him off the plane and put him into a waiting car. Officials said the 19-year-old convict was taken to a federal jail in Miami, where he is scheduled to have an initial court appearance Wednesday. It’s likely he will eventually be taken to Seattle, where he was indicted for allegedly stealing a plane from Idaho and crashing it in Washington.
Earlier Tuesday, Harris-Moore pleaded guilty in the Bahamas to illegally entering the country. He had been arrested in the island country Sunday following a high-speed boat chase.
The charge stemming from his alleged crash of a stolen plane on Great Abaco Island carried a $300 fine. His lawyer, Monique Gomez, said the U.S. Embassy would pay it (Why is the U.S. Embassy paying?!).
Gomez said Harris-Moore wanted to go home.
The shackled teen smiled after the judge read the sentence. Bahamian police had earlier said that he would face other charges including illegal weapons possession related to a string of break-ins and thefts during his weeklong hideout in the country.
Harris-Moore wore white sneakers without laces and kept his head down as armed officers escorted him to the courthouse. A police SWAT team stood by as authorities put up street barricades ahead of the hearing for the celebrity suspect.
His arrest came as a relief to people across rural Camano Island, Wash., where authorities say he learned to dodge police.
Harris-Moore told police in the Bahamas that he came to the country, located off the Florida coast, because it has so many islands, airports and docks, according to an officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.
The teenager claimed that he told islanders he was trying to get to Cuba so he could throw police off his trail, but he intended to make his way to the Turks and Caicos Islands southeast of the Bahamas, the officer said.
The suspect learned from the Internet that the British territory has a small police force and no marine defense force, according to the officer.
Harris-Moore spent Monday being questioned by investigators. Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade described him as eloquent, calm, cooperative and “obviously a very intelligent young man,” but declined to say whether he made any confession.
He is accused crimes in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.
Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, said Tuesday she expected the U.S. Marshals Service would fly Harris-Moore from Miami to Seattle, where he faces a federal complaint of interstate transportation of stolen property, alleging that he took a plane from Idaho and crashed it in Washington.