“These people may have nothing but fake documents,” said Thomas Hessionof the U.S. Marshals Service regional fugitive task force. “They may be able to slip and slide through the system.” Over the last three years, immigration officers, working with other law enforcement agencies, have captured 87 foreign nationals in the Los Angeles area wanted in their native countries on suspicion of murder, rape and other crimes. A much larger task force headed by the marshals in Southern California has captured thousands more foreign fugitives, including 142 in the last year who were wanted in connection with homicides. Most of the arrests are of Mexicans, but officers have found suspected criminals from around the world, including Korea, China and Hungary.
Federal immigration officers, Los Angeles police, and U.S. marshals work to track down foreign fugitives hiding in the U.S., says the Los Angeles Times. Theirs is not an easy job, because fugitives can easily access high-quality fake documents and blend in among the diverse communities of Southern California. Hiding in plain sight, the suspected criminals often change their names and appearances and get jobs, buy homes and even start families. One of the most publicized arrests was that of Alfrfedo Rios Galeana, Mexico’s “Public Enemy No. 1,” who had escaped from prison 20 years earlier and was wanted for killings, kidnappings, and bank robberies. When authorities found him in in 2005, he was running an office-cleaning business, had become involved in his neighborhood church, and apparently had made himself less recognizable with plastic surgery.