EPA's Most Wanted Fugitives Featured on New Website
WASHINGTON, DC, December 10, 2008 (ENS) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking a page from the book of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is now posting pictures and descriptions of fugitive environmental lawbreakers or those accused of environmental crimes on a new website.
The EPA’s Most Wanted site opened today at: http://www.epa.gov/fugitives with 23 fugitives featured.
The alleged violations include smuggling of ozone-depleting substances, illegally disposing of hazardous waste, discharging pollutants into the air and water, laundering money and making criminally false statements.
“Putting this information on the EPA’s website will increase the number of eyes looking for environmental fugitives,” said Granta Nakayama, head of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Two EPA fugitives were captured this year, and this website could help us find more fugitives in the future.”
The website includes photos of the accused, summaries of their alleged environmental violations, and information on each fugitive’s last known whereabouts.
One of the featured fugitives is Mauro Valenzuela,
39, a former mechanic for Sabertech. Valenzuela
is alleged to have illegally transported hazardous
materials on a commercial aircraft.
In 1996, Valenzuela allegedly transported waste oxygen generators onboard ValuJet flight 592 without proper markings and other safety measures.
The flight crashed into the Everglades shortly after take-off from Miami International Airport killing all 110 passengers and crew onboard. Valenzuela fled the country soon after his arraignment nine years ago.
Another fugitive featured on the new site is Raul Chavez-Beltran, president of EnCon Environmental Services, Inc. Chavez-Beltran was charged in the Western District of Texas – El Paso Division with illegal transportation, storage and disposal of mercury contaminated soil, conspiracy and mail fraud. He is believed to be living and working in Mexico.
The website also lists EPA’s captured fugitives such as the two men the agency found on the run earlier this year. David Allen Phillips escaped prison four years ago after being convicted of Clean Water Act crimes in Montana.
He fled to Mexico, was turned over to authorities by the Mexican government last March, and awaits further sentencing.
David Ortiz fled after the appeal of his conviction for Clean Water Act crimes in 2004. He remained at large for almost four years until his capture last March in Colorado and is currently in prison.
The EPA is advising anyone who encounters a fugitive to notify the agency by submitting the “Report a Fugitive” form on the website. The information will be electronically sent to EPA’s national criminal investigation office in Washington, DC.
Members of the public may also choose to report the information to their local police department or, if outside the United States, to the nearest U.S. Embassy.
Some fugitives may be armed and dangerous, and EPA warns members of the public against trying to apprehend them.
Many of the alleged violators listed on the website have fled the country. EPA depends on cooperation with Interpol and other international law enforcement agencies to locate them.
The FBI, the U.S. Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also maintain websites featuring fugitives from the law, but EPA is the first federal law enforcement agency to feature an environmental crimes fugitive website.
Criminal charges are allegations of misconduct. Individuals charged with environmental crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.