DSS And AMW Collaborate To Catch International Fugitives
John Walsh interviewed Rob Kelty, DSS Regional Security Officer in Belize.
Cops credit an AMW tip for leading them to Robert Snyder, a chess instructor charged with molesting young boys in Colorado.
The tip pointed police to an elementary school in Belize where a man who resembled Snyder was going by the name Augustine Rios and tutoring children in chess.
Police were sure they had their guy -- but putting him behind bars in the United States would require help from several different agencies, including the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of State.
"We're really excited, really thinking this is a fantastic tip ... the best information we have," Sgt. Paul Wood of the Fort Collins Police Criminal Impact Unit said. "And we contact the U.S. Marshal Service from that point to take over the liaison with the State Department in Belize.
"The State Department gets with the [Belizean] officials, and they start looking for Augustine Rios and trying to identify that he is the right person," Sgt. Wood said.
Diplomatic Security Has Widespread Influence
Robert Snyder was extradited from Belize to face child molestation charges in the United States.
The DSS has agents posted in 160 countries, where their relationship with foreign and international law enforcement organizations allows them to help U.S. law enforcement agencies with investigations abroad.
A DSS agent receives information from a U.S. agency, such as the Marshal's Service, about a suspect’s possible location. They conduct surveillance on the suspect and, when they’re sure they’ve got the right person, the U.S. agency obtains a provisional warrant.
The DSS agent will then work with the country's local police to devise an arrest plan.
Finally, local police make the arrest, and the DSS works with foreign and U.S. officials to return the suspect.
DSS estimates that they return more than 100 fugitives per year to the United States.
Partnership Credited For Many Captures
Snyder was arrested by the Superintendent of the Belizean police and returned to the United States without incident to face the possibility of life in prison.
"This is the third time for America's Most Wanted with our agency that we've captured fugitives outside the United States," Sgt. Wood said. "We had a murderer caught in Guatemala. We had a sex offender caught in Costa Rica. And now Robert Snyder in Belize."
And these are just a few examples. In 2008, determined investigators’ hard work paid off with the capture of Alaskan murder suspect Ariel Beau Patrick.
After a year of searching around Guatemala City, Guatemala, Marshals said his capture was possible "through a collaborative effort between AMW, the U.S. Marshals, Anchorage P.D., the U.S. State Department and Guatemalan authorities."
Cops tell a similar story about the capture of convicted child predator Alan Horowitz who was wanted in New York.
When a tipster in India noticed a family friend going by the name "Elisha" was hanging around grade schools handing out candy, a visit to AMW.com confirmed his suspicions.
"Elisha" was soon identified as Horowitz and, with the help of the DSS, returned to his rightful place in U.S. prison.
The passage of the PROTECT Act in 2003 made it a crime for U.S. citizens to sexually exploit or abuse children in a foreign country and increased demand for DSS assistance with U.S. pedophiles and sex offenders abroad.
The DSS also actively investigates passport and visa fraud, which often includes hunting down criminals who use the fake documents to commit crimes and fugitives who use them to change their identities and travel between countries.
The DSS assists U.S. state, local and federal law enforcement agencies with thousands of overseas investigations every year.