Mikhail Drachev, Suspect in Police Informant's Murder, Extradited to Arizona

Phoenix detective Tom Britt listened intently on the phone in late 2001 as his informant, Konstantin Simberg, told him about stolen human growth hormone. Then came the scream.

Simberg, 21, was found dead near Fossil Creek a couple of days later.

Two of the murder suspects were soon caught and later convicted; a third, Mikhail Drachev, managed to elude authorities for five years. Drachev, now 27, was captured in Canada in 2007 after his girlfriend, to whom he'd lied about his identity, turned him in.

The former Tempe resident and Russian immigrant lost his years-long battle to avoid extradition, and on Sunday was flown in from Canada and picked up at Sky Harbor by Phoenix detectives working with the FBI. Police seek charges of murder and kidnapping.

Drachev's case had been featured five times on "America's Most Wanted" before his 2007 capture. Court paperwork states that Drachev "almost repelled (sic)" from the 20-story high-rise in Canada with a climbing rope before being caught by the Royal Canadian Mounties. A write-up on the America's Most Wanted site says that cops merely found the rope in his room, and that they assumed he'd wanted to rappel.

He's being held in county jail on a $2 million bond.


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.