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Fugitive Active Search Team caught 345 fugitive criminals last year

Figures released by the Federal Police Service show that its Fugitive Active Search Team (FAST) was successful in catching 345 convicted criminals that were on the run in 2018. The figures appear in an article in Francophone daily ‘La Dernière Heure’. Among those captured are convicted murders and rapists. Three of those brought into custody were on the Belgium’s Most Wanted list. Since the start of this year new improved police methods have been used to help track down and detain fugitive criminals. 

The FAST Team is made up of 10 specially trained police officers that work around the clock looking for convicted criminals that are on the run. Their efforts have been fruitful with 345 criminals having been caught by the FAST Team during 2018.

The team’s commanding officer Martin Van Steenbrugge told journalists that “They are murderers, big time drug dealers, fugitives that were members of criminal organisations, human traffickers and rapists”.

Almost 100 of those detained were tracked down here in Belgium. The rest were found and arrested in other countries, including France, The Netherlands and Germany thanks to cooperation with the police FAST teams there.

Currently, police services in all 28 EU countries have their own FAST team. Those fugitives from Belgian justice caught abroad are sent back to Belgium quickly.

Since the Belgian FAST Team was set up around 20 years ago hundreds of fugitives have been caught. In 2017 the FAST was successful in bringing 410 fugitives into custody. Currently the team is looking to catch 1,852 criminals that are on the run.

Various methods are used to catch the fugitives. From this year the FAST Team has been using special police methods in their efforts to catch fugitives.

"These are special detection methods, but also phone taps, mobile phone tracking, and the use of cameras or his deployment of special units to carry out surveillance. So a whole range of methods to ensure that fugitives are tracked down successfully”, Mr Van Steenbrugge added.    

This year two of fugitives caught thanks to the efforts of the FAST Team so far this year were on the Belgian Police Most Wanted List. 

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