DSS Most Wanted Fugitive: Captured, Returned, and Sentenced

May 27, 2015

One man has an extensive criminal record in drug trafficking. Another person is wanted for aggravated sexual assault of a minor. Yet another for making terrorist threats. What all three criminals have in common is that they are currently featured on the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Most Wanted site for having committed passport and visa fraud, which are federal crimes. Typical of others on this list, they are using false identities to evade justice and commit more serious crimes.

Date: 05/27/2015 Description: Most wanted graphic - State Dept Image

DS’ Criminal Investigative Liaison (CIL) Branch Chief Fernando says, “These are individuals DSS – and oftentimes other law enforcement agencies – are looking for. But the case has gone cold for lack of information. Listing them on the DSS Most Wanted site gets them exposure.”

In the case of one fugitive on the list, an individual in a country halfway around the world Googled a suspicious person he knew. Within a matter of a few clicks, he saw this person’s mugshot listed on the DSS Most Wanted list. He used the contact information on the site to provide information to DSS special agents at CIL in Rosslyn, Virginia.

They, in turn, determined the tip was credible and forwarded it to the DSS special agent working on the case in that country. That agent then met with the tipster and confirmed the fugitive’s presence there. This information was shared with the prosecuting assistant U.S. attorney, who passed it to the Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs, for possible extradition.

Fernando explains, “In short, the DSS Most Wanted list works as an effective investigative tool for our case agents. It gets the word out all over the world when leads are scant.”

Since its launch in 2012, the DSS Most Wanted website has directly led to the apprehension of four targets who were brought back to face justice. The most recent example is former Florida resident, Gregory Swarn.

According to court documents, Swarn and his accomplices allegedly operated a fraudulent telemarketing scheme in which they cold called people and offered them the opportunity to profit from buying and quickly selling houses in an economically depressed U.S. city. According to an FBI press release, more than 290 people in 46 states and Canada, many of them elderly, lost more than $20 million.

In September 2014, the FBI was investigating an individual who was believed to be working with Swarn. In the process, they learned that Swarn had used an alias to fraudulently acquire a U.S. passport. Subsequently, the FBI notified the DS Miami Field Office (MFO), and MFO Special Agent Bryan opened a parallel investigation.

Bryan says, “As suspected, Swarn had stolen the identity of another person and used it to secure a U.S. passport in July 2011. That was how he was able to evade getting caught for so long."

Based on this evidence, Bryan requested that CIL feature Swarn on the DSS Most Wanted list. In addition, Bryan secured a separate warrant for Swarn’s arrest on October 3, 2014. When the DS Facebook page announced Swarn had been listed, web traffic spiked to nearly 6,000 views.

Bryan’s ongoing investigation revealed that Swarn was possibly residing in Thailand. So he contacted the assistant regional security officer-investigator (ARSO-I) assigned to the Regional Security Office (RSO) U.S. Embassy Bangkok at the time. The ARSO-I’s preliminary investigation confirmed that Swarn was indeed in Thailand.

Working with Consular Affairs at U.S. Embassy Bangkok, the ARSO-I had Swarn’s passport revoked, based on his felony warrant. The case moved forward quickly from that point on because the process of deporting someone for not having valid travel documents is much faster than the extradition process, which can take years.

RSO Bangkok submitted a request to Thai Immigration Bureau officials to assist in locating and arresting Swarn. Working closely with RSO Bangkok investigators, Thai officials located Swarn’s residence in Thailand. When they confronted him there on November 7, 2014, Swarn confessed to having used a bogus passport and was taken into custody.

The next step focused on returning Swarn back to the United States to face the outstanding DSS warrant. RSO Bangkok coordinated with Thai Immigration Bureau officials, CIL, and MFO to carry out Swarn’s successful deportation.

“RSO Bangkok has achieved great success in past years apprehending wanted fugitives like Swarn because of our strong relationship with the Royal Thai Police and the Thai Immigration Bureau,” says RSO Bangkok Tom. “In this case, Swarn’s arrest represented a milestone for the police because he was considered such a big fish, and because there was a genuine fear that he may be continuing his illegal activities in Thailand.”

CIL Special Agent Aaron, who is currently serving as the DSS liaison to the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), worked with USMS to iron out the details of getting Swarn from his point of entry in California to his final destination in Florida.

On November 14, 2014, Bryan and fellow MFO Special Agent Aram met with Swarn at Embassy Bangkok and boarded a flight to Los Angeles. There, USMS agents took custody of Swarn and flew him to Miami.

On May 27, 2015, Swarn pleaded guilty to charges of passport fraud and identity theft at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He was sentenced to a 24-month prison term.

In November 2014, he and 15 accomplices were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and mail and wire fraud. The case is with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit.

MFO special agents lead DSS Most Wanted fugitive, Gregory Swarn, through the
Los Angeles International Airport upon their arrival in the United States from
Thailand on November 14, 2014. (U.S. Department of State photo)