A Waco drug dealer who absconded during his trial last month before being sentenced to life in prison was captured Thursday night by a fugitive task force.

Randy Don Johnson, 33, who was caught in 2017 with 279 grams of cocaine, showed up for the first day of his trial in Waco’s 54th State District Court but failed to appear the following day.

Judge Matt Johnson delayed the trial about an hour Dec. 17 waiting for Johnson to come to court. When he failed to show, the judge revoked his $250,000 bond, issued a warrant for his arrest and proceeded with the trial without him.

Johnson has been a fugitive ever since and authorities and others have been trying to track him down.

With Johnson absent, the jury deliberated about five minutes before convicting Johnson of possession with intent to deliver more than 200 grams of cocaine.

The jury deliberated about 15 minutes before assessing the maximum prison time for the first-degree felony.

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said the sheriff’s office Fugitive Apprehension and Special Tasks unit has been searching for Johnson since he fled and tracked him to an apartment in Dallas, where he was arrested Thursday night with the assistance of the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force from the U.S. Marshals Service in Waco and the North Texas Task Fugitive Force from Dallas.

Also active in the six-week search was Charlie Pickens of Pickens Bail Bonds.

“It was a great team effort by the sheriff’s department, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Waco Police Department,” Pickens said.

Johnson was free after posting $45,000 bond immediately after his arrest in May 2017. However, he failed to report to court for pretrial matters and his bond was increased to $250,000, which he also posted.

After he fled, the judge increased his bond to $500,000, according to court records.

“Why do you think he ran away?” prosecutor Robert Moody asked jurors in trial summations. “Because of all that cocaine. He knows what’s coming.”

Moody said his office is considering filing a bond jumping charge against Johnson, which potentially could be another 20-year term that a judge could order Johnson to serve consecutively with his life sentence.

“While Mr. Johnson caused a delay, he is ultimately going where he needs to be for a very long time,” Moody said Friday.

In the punishment phase of the trial, prosecutors showed Johnson has four previous felony convictions, including two for possession of marijuana and one each for criminal mischief and evading arrest. He also has misdemeanor convictions for possession of marijuana and criminal trespass.

Johnson was arrested in 2017 in the 500 block of Tennessee Avenue after Waco police officers spotted him sitting in his car while they were pursuing a fleeing motorist. They lost the other suspect, but something about Johnson seemed suspicious to Waco police Officer Vern Darlington.

Darlington said he smelled marijuana as he approached Johnson’s car and he later found 232 grams of powder cocaine, 47 grams of crack cocaine and $9,600 in cash in the car.

Waco police Sgt. John Allovio testified the street value of the cocaine seized was more than $50,000.

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