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Man arrested in abduction of Florida boy, 13

Story Highlights

NEW: Police say Vicente Beltran-Moreno fled to Mexico
NEW: Suspect persuaded to go to Texas-Mexico border, turn self in
• Beltran-Moreno wanted in February 23 kidnapping of Clay Moore, 13
• Boy was abducted from school bus stop in Florida, used safety pin to free himself
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BRADENTON, Florida (CNN) -- The man wanted by authorities in connection with the abduction of a 13-year-old Florida boy was taken into custody Wednesday in Texas, the Manatee County Sheriff's Department said.

Vicente Ignacio Beltran-Moreno, 22, turned himself over to U.S. authorities after walking across the U.S.-Mexico border at the Hidalgo County crossing, Maj. Connie Shingledecker said at a news conference.

Beltran-Moreno had fled to Sinaloa state on Mexico's Pacific coast soon after the February 23 abduction of Clay Moore, 13, Shingledecker said.

The suspect was with relatives in his native Mexico, and authorities persuaded him to turn himself in Wednesday in Texas through a series of daily phone calls, Shingledecker said.

She said arrangements were being made to extradite Beltran-Moreno from Texas.

Authorities say Beltran-Moreno abducted the boy at gunpoint from a school bus stop in Parrish, Florida, about 30 miles southeast of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Clay was driven to a rural area and tied to a tree, Manatee County Sheriff Charlie Wells said.

The boy used a safety pin he had hidden in his mouth to cut through duct tape and other bonds that were holding him, authorities and his parents said. (Full story)

He walked until he came upon some farm workers and was able to borrow a cell phone to call his parents.

Information that Clay gave authorities led them to issue an arrest warrant for Beltran-Moreno on charges of armed kidnapping and aggravated assault.

"He was right on the money with the information that he gave us," Wells said.

Police recovered the red pickup truck allegedly used in the kidnapping at the suspect's home in Bradenton, Florida.

During their investigation, police recovered a handwritten ransom note less than a page long, possibly intended for Clay's parents, that contained unspecified threats, Wells said.

"It was his intention, the suspect's intention, to leave Clay Moore tied in the woods until he got his money," Wells said.

Steve Kelle, Moore's stepfather, told reporters the family is "overjoyed" that the suspect is in custody, and thanked everyone who came forward and gave information in the case.

Beltran-Moreno worked in Manatee County as an aluminum contractor building screen enclosures and once worked as a "contract picker" on a farm near the wooded area where Moore was bound to the tree for several hours before his escape, Wells said.

Citing the teen's resourcefulness and ability to recall details, Wells said, "the bottom line is that the man kidnapped the wrong kid."

Shingledecker said a "Plan B," involving an arrest in Mexico and extradition, was in place in case Beltran-Moreno had changed his mind about turning himself in.


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