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08/25/2010

HSI investigates, arrests and sends Czech criminal fugitives back home to face justice

Investigating and deporting criminals who have no business being in the United States back to their home countries is a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) top priority carried out by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). On the other side of the Atlantic, a goal of the Czech Republic is for their criminal fugitives to face criminal proceedings within their own justice system. Fulfilling both these objectives through an ICE Vienna, Austria, fugitive program is not only where the twain shall meet, but is bringing excellent results.

Authorities from HSI and the Czech Republic Interpol initiated this highly effective program two years ago, and it has worked exceedingly well since that time with HSI arresting 25 Czech fugitives in the U.S., and 12 of them returning to the Czech Republic. The program targets some of the most wanted fugitives according to Czech authorities. 

During a week in May 2010, the stars were shining particularly unfavorably on a string of Czech criminal fugitives committing various U.S. violations while trying to take refuge in the U.S. HSI agents investigating three different cases in three different parts of the country — Florida, California and Texas — arrested three Czech fugitives within four days of each other.

On May 25, 2010, HSI agents in Sarasota, Fla., arrested a man wanted by the Czechs for embezzlement and fraud who had been sentenced to seven years in the Czech Republic. Two days later, HSI agents in Los Angeles, Calif., arrested another Czech national who was evading Czech authorities after he committed armed robbery, theft, breaking and entering, property damage and other violent crimes in his home country for which he had been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Then, on May 28, 2010, HSI agents in Galveston, Texas, arrested a third wanted fugitive from the Czech Republic for various criminal fraud offenses in which he had been sentenced to four years in prison.

"The mutual law enforcement cooperation between HSI and the Czech Republic is a win-win situation for us both," said ICE Vienna Attaché James Plitt. "In the process of returning Czech citizens who are wanted for criminal offenses in their own countries, we not only help the Czechs bring justice in their own land, but we are also hitting one of our pillars of protecting the public—removing criminal aliens."

The ICE Attaché office in Vienna is responsible for U.S. immigration and customs law enforcement liaison functions within 13 countries in southeast Europe.

"This successful program sustains the joint investigative efforts that ICE currently has with law enforcement authorities from the Czech Republic and other countries related to human smuggling and trafficking, narcotics trafficking, counter-proliferation investigations and other crimes that transcend U.S. borders," said Plitt. Captain Jaroslav Ibehej, of the Office of the Czech Republic Police President Presidium, Public Relations and Prevention Division commented, "Our mutual cooperation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is greatly appreciated by the Czech National Police. The cases demonstrate that even in the United States, Czech fugitives cannot hide from justice. Both the DHS Homeland Security investigators and the Czech law enforcement officials look forward to working on future law enforcement projects."

On May 21, 2010, Attaché Vienna ICE Senior Representative Stephen Madden received the Czech Republic Police Medal of Honor in an official ceremony held in Prague, Czech Republic, at Czech Republic Police Headquarters attended by the Czech Police President, Head of Czech Republic Police Criminal Investigative Division, and the Head of Interpol Prague. Madden was recognized for his long-term outstanding international police cooperation with Czech law enforcement authorities since 2007.

Tough immigration enforcement measures take a predominant place on ICE's agenda, and the record removal of 380,000 illegal aliens during the past fiscal year proves that the agency's actions back up their intentions. ICE Director John Morton has repeatedly stated that ICE is committed to removing illegal immigrants who pose the greatest threat to public safety. European nationals, including Czech nationals who are wanted in their own countries for criminal offenses are included as targets for removal.