Game Over for 31 Fugitives in Colombia

September 9, 2015


The lying. The scheming. The running and hiding.

All that is over for 31 fugitives in Colombia who came face-to-face with a person they never wanted to meet – Antonio, a special agent with the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) who serves as assistant regional security officer-investigator (ARSO-I) at U.S. Embassy Bogotá.

Date: 01/01/2015 Description: A DSS special agent, Colombian National Police, and Colombian Immigration Service officials conduct a joint raid in Ipiales on the Ecuador-Colombia border. They targeted human smugglers who were transporting U.S.-bound immigrants from all over the world through Colombia, January 2015. (U.S. Department of State photo) - State Dept Image A DSS special agent, Colombian National Police,
and Colombian Immigration Service officials conduct a joint raid in Ipiales on the Ecuador-Colombia border. They targeted human smugglers who were transporting U.S.-bound immigrants
from all over the world through Colombia,
January 2015. (U.S. Department of State photo)
 

Since January 2014, Antonio and his staff have investigated, located, and returned 31 fugitives who were wanted in the United States for a variety of crimes. One criminal was a former weapons officer on a nuclear submarine who had been charged with grand larceny for allegedly defrauding his acquaintances of more than $1 million. Another was a physician assistant who allegedly forged signatures and made up diagnoses to submit to Medicare and Medicaid for millions of dollars in reimbursements.

But Antonio’s most notorious case involved an accomplished academic who had been featured on his home state’s Most Wanted list for allegedly committing sex crimes against children. He had managed to evade authorities for 22 years by going to great lengths to alter his appearance, including undergoing oral and plastic surgery to change his facial features, and getting skin grafts done to obliterate his fingerprints.

Antonio says, “People under extreme circumstances are capable of committing all kinds of crimes. But the one thing I can’t comprehend is how a person can harm a child. Someone like that does not stop either. He will continue finding new victims. That’s why I made crimes against children a top priority for my team.”

“We’re just three people, and what we do is not glamorous like those TV police dramas. The secret of our success is having top-notch people and maintaining strong working relationships with multiple law-enforcement partners. Criminal Fraud Investigator (CFI) Eduardo, Investigative Assistant Olga, and I work daily with our colleagues in DSS and other U.S. federal law-enforcement agencies, as well as with our local partners.

Date: 06/22/2015 Description: Colonel Juliette Kure Parra, head of Interpol Colombia, presents U.S. Embassy Bogota ARSO-I Antonio and CFI Eduardo with the prestigious Major Juan Carlos Guerrero Barrera Medal, June 22, 2015. (U.S. Department of State photo) - State Dept Image
Colonel Juliette Kure Parra, head of Interpol Colombia, presents U.S. Embassy Bogota ARSO-I Antonio and CFI Eduardo with the prestigious Major Juan Carlos Guerrero Barrera Medal, June 22, 2015. (U.S. Department of State photo)
 

“Our joint work with the Colombian National Police, specifically with the Directorate of Judicial Police and Investigation and Interpol Colombia, and also with the Colombian Immigration Service, has been vital to accomplishing our investigative mission here in Colombia. This joint work and the ‘One Team, One Fight’ concept have been key to our success.”

Colonel Juliette Kure Parra says in her six years as head of Interpol Colombia, she has never had a closer working relationship with any other foreign police unit, and her team has not captured as many fugitives as with Antonio and his team.

In recognition of their accomplishments, the Interpol National Central Bureau awarded Antonio and Eduardo the Major Juan Carlos Guerrero Barrera Medal, named in honor of fallen Colombian police officer credited with having conducted the investigation that led to the targeted killing of the FARC’s terrorist leader, “El Mono Jojoy.” This is a very prestigious award only ever awarded to three other Americans, and the first time to a DSS special agent.

“It was a great honor for us to represent the DSS ARSO-I Program, the Regional Security Office at Embassy Bogotá, DS Criminal Investigative Liaison Branch, and DSS as a whole by accepting this medal, especially given the history and significance of this award,” says Antonio.

A day in the life of an ARSO-I
Then-DS Overseas Criminal Investigations Division Chief Galen says, “Today, there are more than 120 ARSO-Is working side-by-side with their host-country law enforcement counterparts to bring criminals to justice. In 2014, ARSO-Is, CFIs, and investigative assistants facilitated more than 1,800 arrests, including foreign terrorist fighters, human traffickers, and document vendors. ARSO-Is also trained more than 24,500 local law enforcement, immigration officials, airline personnel, and consular officers on the detection of fraudulent travel documents and their use by terror groups and transnational criminal organizations. Through these efforts, DS is fulfilling its mission as outlined in the Visa and Passport Security Strategic Plan and helping to secure U.S. borders.