Derek Ryan Mockli

VERNAL — One of the Utah Department of Corrections 15 most wanted fugitives is back behind bars after being arrested in Vernal.

Derek Ryan Mockli, 26, was taken into custody Monday afternoon by members of the U.S. Marshal's Service Joint Criminal Apprehension Team as he walked out of a JB's Family Restaurant with his girlfriend. Mockli was arrested without incident, according to Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Jim Phelps.

"We do it with enough officers that usually they give right up," Phelps said. "They see that they're outnumbered and don't try to resist us."

Mockli, who has convictions for aggravated robbery and robbery, was released on parole from the state prison in June 2007, said Angie Welling, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Corrections. Welling did not know how long it had been since Adult Probation and Parole agents had seen Mockli, but he was formally listed as having absconded from parole on Jan. 7.

Phelps said the authorities received information that Mockli was in the Vernal area and set up surveillance on his girlfriend.

"That's what actually led us to him," Phelps said, noting that the woman was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of justice because she had been advised that Mockli was a fugitive but "claimed she had no information as to his whereabouts."

Phelps said Mockli's arrest is the second the JCAT task force has made in the Uintah Basin in recent months.

"We're starting to come out there more and more often," he said. "These people in Salt Lake think, 'OK, I can hide out in the Basin and they're not going to come out and get me' and that's not the case."

Mockli is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail on a no bail warrant issued by the state Board of Pardons and Parole and a $10,000 warrant for drug charges not related to Monday's arrest.

"Ultimately he will go back to the prison," Welling said.