ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. (AFPN) -- It can be a long and laborious process. But ask any one of the special agents who have been part of a fugitive-recovery team, and they will tell you that the complexity in tracking and apprehending an Air Force fugitive is well worth the time, money and effort.
OSI agents recently apprehended and prosecuted two of the Air Force Top Ten fugitives in different parts of the world, officials said.
Regardless of where apprehensions take place, one important link in the recovery process resides at OSI headquarters here. Special Agent “W,” fugitive program manager, is responsible for overseeing all fugitive investigations by providing operational guidance and policy interpretation for case agents in the field. Agent W’s name has been changed for security reasons.
“Our recent capture rate is proof that our program is better and more successful than it has ever been,” Agent W said. “Since the formal program was created seven years ago, the pace we’ve set in bringing these folks to meet justice is one that most are not able to outrun.”
The program was formally launched in 1997 to better concentrate the efforts field units put into retrieving fugitives while developing liaison contacts with other U.S. and foreign agencies, officials said. There are challenges, however, from not having a formal program in place earlier. The biggest concern is time -- seven Airmen remaining on the Top Ten list are those that were not aggressively tracked until several years after their initial offense.
“There was a point when we didn’t know where most of them were,” Agent W said. “We have swiftly remedied that, and the incredible hard work of our field agents is proving to be very lucrative in terms of recoveries.”
An Air Force fugitive must first be declared a deserter by Air Force Personnel Center officials; however, being a deserter does not necessarily constitute one as a fugitive. A person can be a deserter and not be a fugitive, officials said.
One of two other things must also be present to be considered a fugitive. The person must be wanted for a felony-level crime such as murder, drugs or weapons charges; but, the crime can be extended for judicial offenses, such as evading courts-martial or sentencing. Next, the person must have held a top-secret or sensitive-compartmented-information clearance and be a person the commander deems to pose a clear and direct security threat to the Air Force, Department of Defense or the nation.