Stories in the Report


Pursuit of gasoline dumper spurs debate over fugitives list

It wasn't hard to track down Jun Wang the first time he ran from the crime that would eventually land him on U.S. EPA's list of wanted fugitives. Wang fled after employees of a Kettering, Ohio, tire shop confronted him as he drained gasoline from his delivery truck into a storm sewer near their store on Nov. 18, 2003. Amid the commotion, the panicked Wang failed to replace his fuel-tank plug, and his truck trailed gasoline through a parking lot and through the streets of Kettering. He didn't replace the plug until his next food delivery stop. But it was too late. Authorities weren't far behind.


Three Freon-smuggling brothers, a lingering mystery

This much is clear: The story of U.S. EPA fugitive Omran Alghazouli is a tale of three brothers, all of whom answered to "Al" and each of whom took a different path when confronted by authorities about their wrongdoing. But what's still being debated -- even after two of the brothers served time in prison for selling the smuggled, atmosphere-destroying refrigerant Freon -- is whether the brothers' crimes had a darker motive beyond lining their pockets at the expense of the earth's stratospheric ozone layer.


Exec played toxic shell game with mercury-laced soil

Of all the alleged crimes committed by members of U.S. EPA's list of wanted fugitives, Raul Chavez-Beltran's misdeeds rank among the most brazen. Chavez-Beltran, who has been on the run for more than eight years, was president of a hazardous waste disposal service in El Paso, Texas, that failed to dispose of the hazardous waste it was paid to collect. Instead, Chavez-Beltran and a group of business partners spent the better part of four years playing a haz-mat shell game, getting paid to gather waste from several companies across the border and then locking it away in leased and rented properties in and around El Paso. The group realized that mislabeling the haz-mat material and putting it in storage was a cheaper alternative to properly disposing of it. And when authorities came asking questions, Chavez-Beltran either found new places to hide his toxic inventory or burned the evidence.


WikiLeaks sheds light on legal standstill over 'well regarded' fugitive

Finding Frerik Pluimers, one of the 17 members of U.S. EPA's list of wanted environmental fugitives, isn't the problem. The well-connected, 64-year-old Dutch businessman is living in the open in the Netherlands. But bringing Pluimers to trial has been a 13-year-long legal and diplomatic drama that has involved at least two Dutch ministers of Justice, one foreign minister, the U.S. State Department, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and even the Dutch Supreme Court.


Indicted in 1996 ValuJet crash, airline mechanic fled

Fifteen years ago today, ValuJet Flight 592 left Miami International Airport en route to Atlanta for what turned out to be a brief and tragic journey. Shortly after takeoff, a fire broke out on board the 27-year-old DC-9 aircraft and, within minutes, the plane plummeted into the Everglades. The death toll: all 105 passengers and five crew members. For Marilyn Chamberlin, whose daughter, Capt. Candalyn Kubkeck, was the plane's pilot, the memory of that day still stings. But Chamberlin, whose daughter was 35, said she got some small comfort this week from learning that U.S. EPA has not given up its hunt for the lone suspect from a criminal investigation of the crash.


Ocean dumpers sail home leaving EPA agents in their wake

To hear Rick Stickle tell it, John Karayannides was the mastermind behind the dumping of 440 tons of oil-soaked grain from a U.S. cargo ship into the South China Sea in 1999. Though Stickle owned the Iowa-based Sabine Transportation Co., Karayannides ran the company's shipping operations. And when a problem on a cargo vessel led to the contamination of a shipment of relief supplies bound for Bangladesh, Stickle said Karayannides came up with the plan and gave orders to throw the ruined grain overboard. But a federal jury did not buy his story. Stickle was convicted in 2005 of ordering the illegal dumping and in obstructing an investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard. Stickle said in a recent interview that he dreams of the day he will cross paths with Karayannides. And that is one area where Stickle and U.S. EPA are in agreement.


'It's a dangerous profession,' top enviro-cop says

Yousef Abuteir's wanted poster stands out among the 16 on U.S. EPA's Web page for environmental fugitives -- and not just because it's the most recent addition to the two-year-old list. After a rundown of aliases, a physical description and a brief explanation of how he conspired to dodge federal excise taxes in a diesel fuel scam, there is a line written in bold letters. It reads: "Abuteir is known to carry a weapon at all times." The warning serves as a reminder of the risks faced each day by the approximately 200 special agents who work in EPA's Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training (OCEFT). But a more profound testament to the danger EPA's law enforcement officers face is located at the agency's headquarters office in Washington, D.C. That is where OCEFT keeps a plaque that honors the agents who have died while on active duty.


Enforcers try PR to net fugitives, shed 'tree hugger' image

Alessandro Giordano is a 32-year-old sports car enthusiast who has brown eyes and a charming smile. He's slightly taller than his 73-year-old father, Carlo Giordano, but takes after his dad when it comes to his full head of dark brown hair and his business sense. If you're traveling overseas, perhaps to Rome, and happen to run into either Giordano, U.S. EPA asks that you alert the authorities immediately. That is because Alessandro Giordano and Carlo Giordano are both founding members of EPA's list of wanted environmental fugitives.

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About This Report

Over the past two years, the EPA Fugitives list has served an important function for the criminal enforcement program beyond simply getting the word out about environmental fugitives. It has also become an important PR tool for the agency. E&E takes a closer look at EPA's armed law enforcement department as well as some of the environmental criminals currently on the lam.