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Arson Suspect Was Easy For Brazilian Police To Find A Mexican Tourist In Rio Rented The $250-A-Month Apartment For Pang About A Week After They Met On The Beach

Associated Press

Martin Pang had a newfound friend rent him a place to live in Rio de Janeiro but was easy to locate and arrest, and he has caused no problems in jail, Brazilian police say.

Pang is being held in a Rio jail pending extradition proceedings to face murder charges in the death of four firefighters during an arson fire that destroyed his parents’ business warehouse on Jan. 5.

Pang is in solitary confinement in a 12-by-15-foot cell containing a toilet, sink and bed. He is allowed neither visitors nor access to a telephone, a guard at the federal police lockup in Rio said.

The guard also said Pang is not allowed out of his cell for meals or exercise, the Seattle Times reported Sunday.

“He is well-behaved,” the guard added.

Before his arrest, Pang lived for less than three weeks in a one-room apartment on the second floor of a pink, 23-unit building less than two blocks from the beach in Rio’s fashionable Ipanema neighborhood. His second-floor unit, around the corner from shops, newsstands and restaurants, overlooked a busy side street.

A Mexican tourist in Rio, Manuel Montoya, told KIRO Television he rented the $250-a-month apartment for Pang about a week after they met on the beach and began spending time together.

“He seemed like a down-to-earth, friendly, nice guy,” Montoya said. “I didn’t know much of his personal problems, but because of some legal difficulties he was having he asked me to assist him in, you know, renting an apartment, which I did, and that’s the extent of it.”

He said he later read a Brazilian newspaper report that Pang was wanted but did not contact police.

“Well, you know, in hindsight we all have 20-20 vision,” Montoya said, “so what I didn’t do means nothing. He’s where he should be.”

Police and denizens of the area said Pang was rarely seen by day.

“He only came out at night, like an owl,” a vendor outside the apartment building’s 6-foot cast-iron security fence told The Times.

One Brazilian official said Pang was located shortly after he arrived Feb. 19.

“He’s American. He doesn’t speak Portuguese. It wasn’t too hard,” the official said.

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