Raymond Abbott was a fit, athletic 31-year-old former US Army soldier. He was articulate, he liked to work out, and he was agile. Nicknamed Robocop, he spent time with women, motorbikes — and guns.
And when he was caught smuggling illegal firearms from Miami into Puerto Rico, Robocop’s escape strategy was every bit as daredevil as in any Hollywood thriller, including the sci-fi flick that carried his name.
Abbott was awaiting sentencing for firearm smuggling charges in a maximum security prison in Puerto Rico when he started planning for his escape. He worked out long and hard to get physically fit for the adventure. Sometimes he would do as many as 1000 pushups a day in his jail cell, officials say.
“He was in excellent physical condition,” said Roberto Vizcarrondo, senior criminal investigator at the U.S. Marshals, about his condition right before jailbreak.
When the time for escape came in February 1992, Abbott broke his way to the prison’s interior patio. Bullets from the guard whooshed by as he jumped out — covered in his blanket and mattress foam for protection — on the barbed wire enclosure outside. His ruse worked and he managed to run away.
Abbott has now made his way to the U.S. Marshals’ Top 15 Most Wanted List. He is wanted for escape from a maximum security facility and making threats against a federal officer while in prison.
He is said to be extremely violent and leads an underworld gang that is involved in dealing in illegal arms.
A few days after his escape from jail, Abbott’s grandmother claimed he had called her saying he would not go back to jail unless he killed Reinaldo Rodriguez, the Federal agent who had helped put him in jail.
Abbott had defied law enforcement agencies for years as a smuggler, even before his arrest. And now that he was on the loose, law enforcement officials feared he would make good on his promise of killing Rodriguez, who was shipped from Puerto Rico to the United States for safety.
“Abbott is extremely articulate, knowledgeable in weapons, and well-versed in the use of high-powered firearms,” Vizcarrondo said of his expertise.
But apart from his skills with guns, Robocop has other interests, too: He is known for his long-time fondness of spending time with women.
“He was always surrounded with nice-looking females,” Vizcarrondo explained Abbott’s favorite pastime when he is not busy smuggling guns.
It was his affinity for women that gave rise to rumors that he had died of AIDS shortly after breaking jail. The rumors, however, have been dispelled. According to the U.S. Marshalls , Abbott seems to be OK and is indulging in his usual brand of crimes: dealing in weapons and leading his gang.
Abbott is believed to be living somewhere in the states bordering Mexico , where he and his gang do business with his extensive network of contacts in the illegal firearms markets of Mexico .
After being on the loose for 16 years, Robocop is now 47. The only thing that seems to have changed about him in these years is his repertoire: His interest in women has now become part of his criminal career. According to the US Marshals, Abbott is now smuggling women from Mexico into the United States for prostitution.
He has been able to flourish his long career in crime and escape arrest because he manages to stay invisible to law enforcement agencies. According to Vazcarrondo, he is keeping a low profile, which is making it hard for the U.S. Marshals to track and capture him.
The light-complexioned, 5-foot-10 fugitive has black hair and grey eyes, and weighs about 160 pounds. He uses false names like Raymond Baerga, Raymond Abbott Baerga, and Raymond Ernest Abbott. He has slash marks on his wrists from a suicide attempt he made years ago.
There is a $20,000 reward for information that could lead to the arrest of the gun-toting Robocop, possibly roaming loose around Beverly Hills.