U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is vowing to redouble Justice Department efforts to bring violent border-crossing fugitives back to face justice in Illinois — especially those who fled to Mexico.
In a two-page letter received Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Holder said the Mexican attorney general's office and the U.S. State Department have pledged to assist the Justice Department as it renews efforts to apprehend the scores of violent fugitives who each year evade trial in Illinois by crossing a U.S. border.
Holder's letter came in response to a Chicago Tribune investigation, "Fugitives from Justice," that identified more than 100 northern Illinois suspects who escaped trial for murder, rape and other serious felonies by fleeing to Mexico, the Philippines, the Middle East and other places. More than half were traced to Mexico, and Tribune reporters found some of them living openly there.
Durbin questioned Holder about the Tribune series at a Nov. 8 Senate hearing, and Holder described the breakdowns documented by the newspaper as "simply unacceptable."
In his letter, Holder said he had directed federal authorities in Illinois to work with top Justice Department fugitive experts, as well as with county and municipal law enforcement agencies, to "set about identifying any gaps in communication on fugitive issues, and ... formulate a plan of action that will include effective information sharing, education and training."
Over the last few weeks, Durbin has been gathering information from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Illinois to prepare for a meeting on fugitives that he plans to convene in Chicago. Holder's letter said he welcomed that initiative.
Read the Tribune investigation at http://www.chicagotribune.com/fugitives.