The Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) is the most widely represented U.S. law enforcement agency in the world with more than 2,000 special agents and hundreds of local criminal fraud investigators, investigative assistants, intelligence research specialists, forensic accountants, and other experts who combat transnational crimes. Given its global presence, DSS is often at the epicenter of transnational investigations, which may include locating individuals attempting to hide from their crimes.
The DSS Overseas Criminal Investigations (OCI) Division works to disrupt criminal activity worldwide, and it plays a particularly prominent role in locating wanted U.S. fugitives on the run. This year, for example, a specially vetted unit of police officers working for DSS at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City has located, detained, and extradited seven fugitives from Guatemala to face justice in the United States.
The vetted police unit, supervised by DSS Special Agent Joshua Fuller, located and arrested fugitives by collaborating with agencies inside and outside Guatemala, including the Guatemalan National Civil Police, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Miami Dade Police Department, the Chesterfield County Police Department, the Suffolk County Police Department, The Leesburg Police Department (Virginia), and the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
The fugitives were wanted on a wide array of charges, to include allegations of sexually assaulting children and murder. Four of the fugitives had been on the run for more than 15 years, including Giovani Gonzalez, who was wanted in Los Angeles for allegedly murdering his ex-girlfriend in 1990. The LAPD recognized the OCI Guatemala team for its assistance, in particular, Special Agents Joshua Fuller and Andy Bazdarich, for their outstanding efforts in locating Gonzalez and facilitating his extradition to face justice in Los Angeles, California.
The DSS vetted police unit in Guatemala is one of 16 such units currently supporting DSS investigations across the world. Through formal agreements between the State Department and the host nation, DSS works with law enforcement entities in host nations to form vetted units, which assist with investigating and prosecuting transnational crimes such as human trafficking, passport and visa fraud, and fugitive cases with a U.S. nexus in their own country.
This interagency collaboration demonstrates the unique role DSS plays in the U.S. law enforcement community through its global presence in 270+ countries and strong ties with host nation law enforcement and security agencies.