Project Welcome Home
The FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division developed Project Welcome Home in an effort to support the apprehension and repatriation of international fugitives charged with crimes of violence. FBI Field Offices typically obtain INTERPOL Red Notices for fugitives suspected of having fled to another country. Once the fugitive is located internationally, the FBI often obtains a provisional arrest warrant enabling a foreign government to arrest an FBI fugitive.
A provisional arrest warrant is necessary so that one country can legally arrest an individual based on an arrest warrant or conviction of that individual in another country. The warrant details that pursuant to the extradition treaty the United States has with that country, the FBI is requesting that an individual be arrested within the law of that country. Within the provisional arrest warrant, there is also an indication of the FBI’s intent to request extradition of the fugitive to the United States. The FBI’s liaison in the foreign country, called a Legal Attaché, determines what the requirements are for a fugitive’s extradition, deportation, or expulsion.
The normal extradition process is established by treaty. Extraditions, however, can take a substantial amount of time as they involve the formal, legal process and provide for the fugitive to appeal. Extraditions can take months or years to be completed. However, when a nation decides to expel or deport a fugitive outside of the formal extradition process, Project Welcome Home enables the FBI to quickly respond and expedite the repatriation of the fugitive.
Project Welcome Home funds the round trip travel of two law enforcement officials and a one-way trip for the fugitive from a foreign country to the United States.
“Top Tenner” Michael Jason Registe, wanted for the July 2007 double murders of two Columbus State University students in Georgia, was arrested by St. Maarten Police officials in conjunction with the Antilles Director of Public Prosecution. This was closely coordinated with the FBI’s Legal Attaché in Bridgetown, Barbados. Registe was returned from St. Maarten to Georgia using Project Welcome Home funding to face state charges.
Since its inception in 2004, over 400 FBI fugitives have been returned to the United States from more than 42 countries to face prosecution.