LOS ANGELES – A Korean national wanted in his native country for allegedly embezzling real estate investors out of millions of dollars was turned over to South Korean law enforcement representatives Thursday at Seoul Incheon International Airport by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Doo Young Choi, 58, was transported from Los Angeles to South Korea on board a commercial aircraft escorted by officers from ERO and the Korean National Police Agency. He is charged in a criminal warrant issued in May 2011 by the Eastern District Court in Seoul with collecting the U.S. equivalent of $6 million from investors for construction of a luxury high-rise that was never built.
Choi's removal to Korea comes less than a month after his capture in the City of Industry by officers assigned to ERO's Fugitive Alien Removal Unit and the U.S. Marshals Service Pacific Southwest Regional Task Force. He was taken into custody Feb. 7 on administrative immigration violations. Department of Homeland Security databases indicate Choi originally entered the United States in July 2010, with authorization to remain the country for 12 days. When he failed to depart by the end of that period, he became subject to administrative arrest.
In October 2011, the South Korean government alerted ERO about the outstanding criminal arrest warrant for Choi and provided officers with a photograph of the suspect. Subsequently, ERO developed several leads on Choi's possible whereabouts, ultimately tracking him to a local country club where he was taken into custody without incident. ERO received substantial assistance with the case from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
"This arrest and repatriation should serve as a sobering reminder to foreign fugitives who mistakenly believe they can elude justice by fleeing to this country," said Timothy S. Robbins, field office director for ERO Los Angeles. "ERO will continue to work closely with its foreign law enforcement counterparts not only to ensure that criminals are held accountable for their actions, but to safeguard the rights of law-abiding citizens here and overseas."
Since Oct. 1, 2009, has removed more than 300 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE's Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.