Koreans topped the list of foreign fugitives nabbed by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) operatives, which arrested a total of 85 runaways wanted in their homeland in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the total, 55 were South Koreans, followed by 8 Americans, 7 Chinese, 3 Japanese, and 3 Taiwanese.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said: “Despite the pandemic, our operatives remain alert and continue our investigations against these illegal aliens, who think they can evade justice by hiding in our country. We will do everything in our power to arrest them, deport them, and ensure they are never able to return here.”
He said the fugitives were arrested in numerous operations conducted by members of the BI’s Fugitive Search Unit (FSU), which served warrants to the arrested aliens.
Headed by unit chief Rendel Ryan Sy, the FSU is tasked with arresting fugitives from justice. Information about the fugitives’ cases often come from foreign governments, as well as intelligence groups such as the Interpol.
The number of arrests in 2021 is significantly higher compared to the 55 arrested in 2020.
“Many of those arrested were involved in fraud, economic crimes, cybercrimes, and sexual offenses,” said Sy.
Notable arrests include the arrest of Lee Honhee and Seo Jungnam, both Korean nationals arrested in January 2021. Lee is wanted in Incheon for attempted murder, while Seo is wanted for allegedly being a leader of an online prostitution ring.
Also arrested in 2021 was Ivaldi Antonello, an Italian with a warrant issued against him for rape, who arrested at the BI Pampanga Field office in February. A Japanese national, Fujita Toshiya, was also arrested in February for alleged involvement in telco fraud.
The month of April saw the arrest of South Koreans Jung Myunghun, Yu Daewoong, and Kang Wesung, who are among Korea’s most wanted, for being leaders of a big-time online scam.
In July, the FSU arrested Pascal Dider Gillot for alleged sexual abuse of minors, while Taiwanese Huang Kuan-I who was wanted for attempted murder for 17 years in his country, was arrested in September.
Lee Jaehun, a Korean, was arrested on December 21 for reportedly being the boss of an illegal online gambling mafia.
“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we will not stop until we arrest each and every fugitive who takes advantage of the Filipino
hospitality to escape their crimes. We will find them, arrest them, and deport them,” Morente warned.