Juan Salaz, who slipped through an open Texas prison cell door in 1997 and has remained at large ever since, was returned to Houston from Mexico by the U.S. Marshals Service on Thursday morning, the agency told The Texas Tribune.

Salaz, a 37-year-old Mexican citizen, was located by U.S. investigators last February. He was flown from Mexico City to Bush Intercontinental Airport and taken immediately to the Harris County Jail, where he awaits transfer back into custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said Alfredo Perez, spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service in Houston.

"He's going to be serving out his sentence immediately," Perez said.

Salaz was incarcerated at Beeville's Garza Unit when he scaled three security fences and made it past two prison guards who merely watched as he fled. They were later fired. 

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Salaz and co-defendant Geronimo Alvarado were convicted for the April 1995 kidnapping of bartender Jose Solorio from the Fantasia Club in southeast Houston. The two tortured Solorio for the entire night before agreeing to a $5,000 ransom.

But the ransom meet was botched, resulting in a shootout with Houston police officers. Detective Jim Binford, who is now retired, fired several rounds of buckshot at Salaz before he was hit in the back by a round fired by a fellow officer.

Binford, reached at his his Houston-area home said he was pleased Salz was finally caught and brought back to Texas.  

"I’m glad this has finally occurred. It’s time he repaid his debt," Binsford said. There’s been a lot of resources used in trying to apprehend him. And it was important to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to apprehend him. It sends a message. You can run but you can’t hide."