The U.S. Marshal's Office in Panama City, Fla., arrested the adult entertainment mogul at sunrise at the local airport on a warrant seeking his arrest for criminal contempt of court.
A judge ordered Francis’ arrest after he reportedly changed the terms of a settlement deal stemming from a 2003 lawsuit in which seven women accused him of victimizing them by filming them in sexual situations while they were on spring break.
Lawyers for the women told U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak that Francis became enraged during the settlement talks, shouting obscenities at the lawyers and threatening to "bury them."
Smoak ordered Francis to settle the case or go to jail for his behavior.
Francis, who initially refused to surrender, later said Smoak has "lost his mind" and that, after having referred to Francis as "the devil" and "an evildoer," Francis labeled Smoak "a judge gone wild."
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta refused to let him remain free pending an appeal.
Francis had said Thursday he would settle the case to avoid jail time.
"I'll give up a billion dollars, but it will be under duress," he said, arguing that any money given would be voided in an appeal.