November 4, 2016

One of Lee County’s 10 most wanted apprehended 

It all started with an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip on Thursday morning, and culminated with six hours of persistent investigation and searching, but one of Lee County’s 10 most wanted fugitives is finally behind bars. 

Members of the US Marshals Fugitive Warrants Task Force immediately acted on a tip on Thursday, November 3 on the whereabouts of wanted fugitive Joel Mercado (DOB 2/25/83).  Mercado had been on the run since January on multiple charges of drug trafficking.  Mercado managed to flee from his original location, however Marshals kept their focus on the target throughout the day, and just after 3:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, they finally apprehended the elusive offender. 

Mercado was placed on Crime Stoppers 10 Most Wanted list earlier this year on the cocaine trafficking charges.  Yesterday’s arrest is Mercado’s 20th in Lee County, with previous jail time for battery on a person age 65 or older, weapons charges and resisting arrest, among others.  His rap sheet shows that he’s been an active dealer of both cocaine and marijuana on the streets of Lee County since 2002. 

“Our appreciation goes out to the efforts of the US Marshals Fugitive Warrants Task Force, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office’s Fugitive Warrants Unit for their persistence in ensuring that Joel Mercado wouldn’t slip through the cracks and evade arrest,” said Trish Routte, Crime Stoppers Coordinator.  “After nearly 11 months on the run, Mr. Mercado finally came up for air, and detectives were ready to greet him when he did.  Yesterday’s effort is an example of teamwork and dedication, and in the end, justice was served.” 

Mercado was charged with two counts of trafficking cocaine, as well as one count of Failure to Appear for a felony offense.  He is currently being held without bond in the Lee County Jail. 

Note:  Mercado’s booking photo from yesterday afternoon is attached to this release.