Captured after 26 years on the run

6 February 2020
Colombian fugitive convicted of rape and murder arrested in global operation

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Twenty-six years after Nancy Mestre Vargas never returned home from a New Year’s Eve outing in Barranquilla, Colombia, her killer was captured in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, where he had been living under a false identity.

Jaime Saade Cormane had been on the run ever since he raped and murdered Ms Mestre Vargas in 1994. He was one of several wanted persons targeted by INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support (FIS) unit as part of Project El PAcCTO (Europe-Latin America Assistance Programme against Transnational Organized Crime).

21 fugitives arrested

The latest El PAcCTO operation saw police representatives from eight countries set up camp in INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires from 21 to 25 October 2019 and focus on some of their most notorious fugitives.

In total, 21 people subject to Red Notices were arrested in the El PAcCTO operation, including individuals wanted for crimes against children, drug trafficking, homicide and sexual offences. A further nine fugitives wanted for serious crimes were successfully located by the El PAcCTO police network.

“Whenever police arrest a fugitive, a powerful message is delivered that no one is beyond the reach of law enforcement, no matter how far away or for how long they flee,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock. “Operations like El PAcCTO demonstrate what can be achieved when investigators pool their knowledge and resources.”

“Whenever police arrest a fugitive, a powerful message is delivered” Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General

A command centre for tracking fugitives

Jaime Saade Cormane was one of more than 100 fugitive profiles initially submitted to INTERPOL by national police organizations to be targeted in the El PAcCTO operation. Following an analysis, a final list of targets was set and provided to the El PacCTO permanent fugitive network composed of investigators from each participating country.

The team set up a command centre in INTERPOL’s Buenos Aires Regional Bureau to track the fugitives during four days of intense collaboration. For the next three months, police leveraged this work, exchanging more than 500 messages of intelligence regarding the targeted fugitives. This cooperation enabled police to locate the now 57-year-old Saade Cormane and he was apprehended by the Brazilian Federal Police on 29 January.

Police exchanged more than 500 messages of intelligence regarding the targeted fugitives

All of the fugitives were arrested or located thanks to the El PAcCTO operation in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.

El PAcCTO is a European Union-funded cooperation programme that seeks to strengthen capacities and facilitate international cooperation. Its partnership with INTERPOL aims to create and develop a permanent mechanism for fugitive investigations across Latin America, involving Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.