BRADENTON, Fla. – Authorities arrested the man they believe abducted 13-year-old Clay Moore from a bus stop last month and left him tied up in the woods, officials said Wednesday.
Vicente Ignacio Beltran-Moreno, 22, agreed to voluntarily return from his native Mexico after several days of negotiations, Manatee County Sheriff Charlie Wells said.
Beltran-Moreno was arrested in Texas Wednesday morning at the U.S.-Mexico border and extradition proceedings were under way to get him back to Florida.
"We pretty much told him we weren't going to give up," sheriff's Maj. Connie Shingledecker said. She said they convinced him he would be better off in a U.S. prison, close to his girlfriend and two children, than incarcerated in Mexico.
Clay was grabbed Feb. 25 while waiting at his school bus stop in Parrish. The gunman drove off with him in a red pickup truck, then left him tied up in the woods about 20 miles away. The boy's parents have said he used a safety pin to pick apart the duct tape that held his wrists and then freed himself.
Beltran-Moreno became a suspect after investigators took an artist's sketch to a migrant worker camps east of Bradenton.
Investigators have said they believe that Clay was picked out at random and that the kidnapper planned to leave him tied up in the woods until a ransom was paid.
Clay's stepfather, Steve Kelle, said the boy's family was pleased with the arrest.
"We're just overjoyed and we're glad we can get past this," he said.