Interpol Leads Fugitive Roundup
The FBI is seeking to locate and apprehend international fugitives by participating in Interpol’s
Interpol Leads New International Effort
Eric Bartoli was indicted in Ohio in 2003 in connection with a Ponzi scheme that bilked his customers out of millions of dollars. He’s been on the run ever since, possibly living in Peru. William Zepeda is wanted in Georgia for armed robbery and murder. He may have fled to his native El Salvador. Alleged child predator Roger Giese, charged in California, could be hiding out in Norway or the Bahamas.
While the FBI is well known for its Top Ten list of wanted fugitives, we also seek to locate and apprehend many other criminals who have avoided arrest by fleeing the country. To help catch these fugitives, the Bureau partners with law enforcement agencies around the world, including the international police organization Interpol.
Interpol’s Operation Infra-Red (short for International Fugitive Roundup and Arrest) represents a focused effort to apprehend fugitives like Bartoli, Zepeda, and Giese by promoting the timely exchange of information among the organization’s member countries and by soliciting the help of the public worldwide.
Launched on May 3, the operation targeted 450 convicted or wanted persons whose names were submitted by 29 participating countries. In early July, Interpol issued a call for public assistance to locate these individuals. Since that time, 114 fugitives have been located or arrested, and new information on 323 of the cases has been provided—including possible locations, photographs, and telephone numbers.
To assist with Operation Infra-Red, the Bureau assigned several agents and other personnel to Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France and is offering additional support from our Violent Crimes/Major Offenders Unit and Directorate of Intelligence at FBI Headquarters in Washington.
Special Agent Eric Ives, who recently returned from a six-week assignment at Interpol headquarters, described the experience as a “fantastic example of law enforcement working together.”
“If I’m in Washington and I have a fugitive lead in Copenhagen,” Ives explained, “ordinarily I can’t just pick up the phone and call an officer there. For one thing, I wouldn’t know who to call, and there are different legal restrictions in different countries. That’s where Interpol steps in, to act as a facilitator and a conduit for information.”
Interpol was created nearly 90 years ago to facilitate just such cross-border police cooperation. Many of the 188 member countries work side by side in Lyon, staffing a 24/7 command post that employs sophisticated databases and operates in four official languages—Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.
If the FBI has information that one of its wanted fugitives might be in Dublin, for example, Interpol coordinates with the Irish authorities to pursue leads and other investigative work. “Having law enforcement from the other countries sitting together in Lyon helps the process greatly,” Ives said. “You can cut through a lot of barriers and get a lot accomplished.”
Among the international fugitives targeted by the FBI are two Top Tenners—James J. “Whitey” Bulger and Robert William Fisher, both wanted for murder, among other crimes.
“Global partnerships are vital to being able to capture these fugitives,” said Special Agent Hector Gonzalez, who coordinated the Bureau’s Operation Infra-Red activities with Interpol. “We are happy to be a part of this initiative, and we are receiving many good leads as a result.”
If you have information regarding international fugitives, please contact your local FBI office or send an e-mail to Interpol’s fugitive unit.