When fact merges with fiction

by Peter Wells Scott

The road from San Sebastian to La Bufa is treacherous, taking 45 minutes but seeming like 4 hours, or 4 days depending on your penchant for risk. The views looking down on the shoreline of Puerto Vallarta make every inch of the ordeal well worth whatever personal price is paid. Or so they say. But what happens if it is cloudy and you are stuck in the middle of them? Then you can’t see 4 feet in front of you. So let it be with Cesar.

It is true that Mr. Luster was in Puerto Vallarta. For 5 months he had been on the lam after jumping bail in his trial in Los Angeles for rape and other sundries. In absentia, the jury gave him 124 years. CBS, CNN and others were quoted as saying that Mr. Luster had escaped to Mexico, then began to redefine Mexico to mean Guadalajara, and after three days the lens focused on Puerto Vallarta.

Sometime early in the morning of last Tuesday, he left his 34 dollar a night room at Los Angeles Motel to replenish his energies at a nearby taco stand. It was there that he was confronted by the “Dog.” The latter is a bounty hunter, who skirmished briefly with the runaway. The fact is that taking the law into your own hands, call it citizen’s arrest, is also a crime under Mexican law. Here it is called kidnapping. So, local papers including El Sol, Meridiano and others next feature pictures of Mr. Luster, Dog and his loyals taken from a local downtown prison. Legend, or is it fact, has it that there are 7 people lodged in Mexican prisons on charges of unlawful kidnapping.

Meanwhile, FBI folks from the U.S. are sent down to Puerto Vallarta to reunite Mr. Luster with his stateside obligations. He is whisked off to a Federal jail in central California. He precariously holds on to his proclaimed innocence, saying that whatever sexual acts that were committed were consensual. Speculation has it the the fugitive also visited the Los Angeles Motel last year. Left behind were 15 pages of notes outlining his activities, and yes, his victims were inebriated, and that he was a player, alleging, “no harm no foul.”

Meanwhile Dog is out of jail after posting bail and under his own personal recognizance. He says that his reward is sufficient if limited to redressing the plight of Luster’s victims. But one would doubt that. In fact, it was the Mexican police that turned the assailant over to U.S. authorities. Speculation as to any award had dwindled from one million dollars to a possible ten thousand dollars. Left behind in the motel was a list of “Paybacks” and a list of Spanish pickup lines. Also was a list of names that might contribute money to accommodate Luster’s new found lifestyle. He was also reviewing resort property north of Vallarta.

Luster’s stateside attorney is claiming that the trial was unjust. The trip to Vallarta has certainly faned the fires of curiosity, and whether a new legend has been framed remains to be seen. Winston Churchill has said to say something about him, be it good or bad. Certainly something has been said about Puerto Vallarta. We will have to await the clouds to clear before we can tell whether it is good or bad. Undoubtedly the beaches and byways have received exposure that money couldn’t buy.