110 died because of oxygen cannisters
Company and employees charged
One of SabreTech mechanics fled
FBI agent still pursuing 21 years later
For more than 20 years, fugitive airline mechanic who may have had a role in the fatal crash of a ValuJet Airlines passenger plane in the Florida Everglades in 1996.
In 1996 a ValuJet plane crashed in the Everglades. In the aftermath of 110 deaths, the US Attorney indicted, among others, a mechanic, Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes, worked for the airline’s maintenance contractor, SabreTech. His crime– he was alleged to have had a role in the mishandling and packaging of oxygen generators that were placed in the DC-9’s cargo hold. The generators, which were missing their required safety caps, ignited in the cargo area, causing the crash.
Here are a few facts about Valenzuela-Reyes and the crime he is suspected of committing:
1) Valenzuela-Reyes, 48, a maintenance contractor who used to work for the now defunct SabreTech, was charged with placing packaged oxygen generators in the plane’s cargo area without putting safety caps on them.
2) As a result of his alleged action, ValuJet flight 592, which took off from Miami International Airport and was headed to Atlanta, Georgia, May 11, 1996, caught fire 10 minutes into its departure. As the plane attempted to turn around and head back to the airport, it crashed into the everglades, killing everyone onboard.
3) ) The plane “slammed nose-first into the muck and disappeared under the earth,” according to 1996 Miami Herald archive story. Determining the cause of the crash “proved challenging” because the remains of the plane were difficult to analyze.
4) A federal judge found SabreTech guilty of failing to train its employees and allowing hazardous materials to be transported into the plane. Investigation proved 144 outdated oxygen generator canisters were placed in flight 592 from another plane. Furthermore, the canisters were listed as “empty” even though they were filled, Patch reported.
5) Two other employees of the company were arrested on charges of conspiracy and lying on repair records, but were later acquitted.
6) Valenzuela-Reyes might be using a fake name and identity while on the run. According to the investigators, he has family in Santiago, Chile, where his ex-wife and children live. It is not clear whether he had any contact with them in the past decade.
7) As he never faced the charges, if caught, Valenzuela-Reyes will also face additional federal charges for fleeing and failing to appear at his trial.
Mauro Valenzuela-Reyes, Mauro Valenzuela, Mauro O. Valenzuela, Mauro Ociel Valenzuela, Reyes Mauro Valenzuela, Mauro Valenzvela-Reyes, Mauro Reyes
|Date(s) of Birth Used||April 18, 1969|
|Place of Birth||La Calera, Chile|
|Height||5’10” to 6’0″|
|Occupation||Airframe and power plant (A&P) mechanic; former Federal Aviation Administration certified aircraft mechanic|
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the location and capture of Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes.
Valenzuela-Reyes may be living under a false identity.
He may be in Chile and may travel to Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia, and other South American countries. He has ties to Georgia in the United States of America.
Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes is wanted for his alleged involvement in the crash of ValuJet Airlines Flight 592 in 1996.
On May 11, 1996, Flight 592 crashed in the Florida Everglades, killing all 110 people on board. Investigation led to the indictment of an aircraft repair facility in Florida, and three of its employees, in connection with improperly packaged chemical oxygen generators that were loaded on Flight 592 and signed off by company employees despite lacking safety caps. Valenzuela-Reyes is the final employee wanted in connection with this incident.
On April 6, 2000, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Valenzuela-Reyes in the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, after he was charged with disobedience and resistance to lawful order and command of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and failure to appear for trial. Valenzuela-Reyes was previously charged on July 13, 1999, with conspiracy to make false statements to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation; false statements to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation; and causing the transportation of hazardous material.
Since then, the FBI’s Miami Field Office has been searching for Valenzuela-Reyes, as a fugitive.
Here are some examples of articles spurred, over the years, by FBI Miami Special Agent Jacqueline Fruge, who has been involved since 1996. They show her determination to get the suspect:
Indicted in 1996 ValuJet Crash, Airline Mechanic Still on EPA’s Most-Wanted List
At trial, SabreTech maintenance manager Danny Gonzalez and worker Eugene Florence, charged with the same crimes as Valenzuela-Reyes, were acquitted. At trial, the defense attorneys argued that the SabreTech workers had thrown away the deadly canisters, and that ValuJet workers had loaded them on the plane, anyway. Jurors heard the argument and set the men free.
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