For law-enforcement officials in India, the career of notorious outlaw Muniswamy Veerappan has played out with depressing monotony: India's most famous criminal kidnaps someone famous, ransom is paid, police swear they'll catch him next time and the cycle repeats. The state governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in southern India claim to have spent $30 million over 15 years trying to capture him, but Veerappan—alleged to have had a hand in more than 130 murders—has remained untouchable, thanks to his jungle survival skills and police corruption. Now, after laying low for two years, he's tried his luck once more, snatching former Karnataka Minister Hanur Nagappa from his home on Aug. 25 and escaping the scene by hitching a ride in a bus. Authorities are desperate to avoid a repeat of his last score, when he made off with $6 million in ransom after kidnapping Indian film star Rajkumar. India's Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani has pledged troops and weapons from the central government, saying the Nagappa abduction would be 'the last chapter in Veerappan's long history of crime.' Last Thursday, Veerappan demanded the release of Kolathur Mani, a political extremist with strong ties to the Tamil Tigers, to head negotiations for Nagappa's release. But as of last Saturday, police and federal commandos claimed to have the bandit cornered in a 5-sq-km patch of the Dinnahalli forest. Could this be Veerappan's final caper?