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200th fugitive returned to face justice

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RCMP Chief Supt. Manny Mann said the program is a partnership involving the RCMP, the Vancouver Police Department and the B.C. Sheriff Service.

B.C. RCMP Chief Superintendent Manny Mann speaks at a news conference at RCMP headquarters on Green Timbers Way in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, to mark the 200th fugitive returned through the B.C. Fugitive Return Program, launched in 2012. For Trax assignment ID# 00058764A. Credit: Mike Bell/PNG [PNG Merlin Archive] PNG

A violent gang associate wanted in Saskatchewan on firearms and assault charges. A man trafficking underage girls evading several Quebec warrants. A father and son charged with defrauding $50,000 from an elderly Ontario couple with dementia.

All were discovered hiding in B.C., and all were arrested and returned to other provinces under the B.C. Fugitive Return Program.

Police and government officials held a news conference Thursday to mark the success of the program, which has sent more than 200 out-of-province fugitives home to face justice since it started eight years ago.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Sean McGowan, who oversees the program, highlighted some of the cases where the program was used to remove criminals from B.C.

“There was a man living in Kelowna who was identified by police as being involved in the human trafficking of underage girls. He had various warrants for his arrest from Montreal,” McGowan said. “When it was discovered that he relocated to Vancouver with one of his victims from Montreal, he was arrested.”

B.C. sheriffs also escorted the father and son fraudster duo back to Hamilton, McGowan said. The gangster was caught after a Vancouver traffic stop.

B.C.’s director of police services Brenda Butterworth-Carr, formerly the top RCMP officer in the province, said at least 14 of the fugitives arrested under the program “were identified as being connected to organized crime.”

The province provides some of the funding. Cash to cover the costs of sheriff escorts also comes from the Director of Civil Forfeiture.

And some of the other provincial jurisdictions are cost-sharing or willing to pick up the total bill, Butterworth-Card said.

“This program is the first of its kind in Canada … and plays a vital role in the provincial government’s commitment to public safety,” she said. “Programs like the provincial fugitive return program help us to ensure that out-of-province fugitives are fully aware that British Columbia is not the place they want to come and hide.”

RCMP Chief Supt. Manny Mann said the program is a partnership involving the RCMP, the Vancouver Police Department and the B.C. Sheriff Service.

“The success of this program rides on those strong partnerships,” Mann said. “We want people to know that B.C. is by no means a safe haven for criminals and that we are dedicated to ensuring that our communities remain safe.”

Mann said police “also hope this brings some closure to their victims, no matter where the crimes are committed.”

Almost half of the wanted fugitives (96 of 207) were returned to Alberta to face charges, followed by 51 sent back to Ontario and 23 to Manitoba. Others were returned to Saskatchewan, Quebec, Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

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