Federal officials arrest German fugitive in Las Vegas

A fingerprint match in a Las Vegas-area drunken driving case led U.S. authorities to a German fugitive in a $100 million international fraud scheme who has been on the run for five years, authorities said Friday.

U.S. marshals recently learned that a fingerprint from a 51-year-old man arrested in February 2011 belonged to Ulrich Felix Anton Engler, and they joined Las Vegas police financial crimes detectives to locate and arrest him late Wednesday, Las Vegas police officer Bill Cassell said.

Engler, who is suspected of using the names Joseph Miller and Joseph Walter, was being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on an immigration violation, pending his transfer to Germany, ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas said.

FBI agents and local police on Friday began to trace Engler's steps in Southern Nevada, finding more than 1,000 pieces of artwork at a storage facility that Engler rented in Boulder City.

"We're investigating what, if any, criminal activity Mr. Engler might have been involved with in Las Vegas," Cassell said. "This individual used multiple identities and was accomplished at concealing his true identity."

FBI agent Patrick Turner said the warrant search at the storage facility is an effort to recover proceeds on behalf of people thought to be fraud victims.

A local court in Mannheim and Hamburg, Germany, issued a warrant in December 2007 accusing Engler of multiple criminal fraud charges, according to an ICE statement. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

He also had been named in a March 2010 notice from the international police agency Interpol.

Engler is accused of using a marketing company called Private Commercial Office in Cape Coral, Fla., to build an Internet pyramid scheme. From June 2003 to December 2004, it collected almost $101 million from more than 3,500 investors in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, authorities said. Once the money reached the United States, investors lost access to it.

When the arrest warrant was issued in Germany, Engler was thought to have been living in Florida.

Last year, U.S. marshals and Interpol officials in Washington determined Engler was living in Nevada under the name Joseph Miller.