Category Archives: International

Items of international interest

Airport Arrest on Warrant Issued in 1979

Jeff Downer  The Cook County Sheriff’s Department arrested fugitive Ata Yousef El Ammouri at O’Hare International Airport recently on a warrant charging him with murder.

Ammouri was originally arrested and charged in 1979 for the slaying of Joe Harris after Harris allegedly stole a can of Miller Lite from Ammouri’s neighborhood store.  After posting a $100,000 bail bond, Ammouri then fled the the country resulting the court issuing a failure to appear warrant.

Flash forward 34 years to the present when Ammouri, traveling from Jordan to Tennessee to attend a graduation ceremony, is arrested while changing planes in Chicago by Cook County Sheriff’s Deputies  It was no coincidence they were there when he got off the plane.  They knew he was coming.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart credited local and federal cooperation in sharing knowledge and making the apprehension possible.  The federal agencies who had been working with the Sheriff”s personnel included the State Department and Homeland Security.

This story resonated with me because I so often encounter questions about traveling with outstanding warrants.  In a post 9/11 world full databases and lists designed to raise red flags of course there is a very real chance of being arrested on a warrant.   Even if the fugitive has been half a world away and 34 years distant.

There is one more thing.  This time Ammouri was held without bond.

Posted in Bail Bonds, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement, Warrant. Tagged with , .

But it Was Just a Joke…

Jeff Downer  Like ABC’s Wide World of Sports I span the internet  looking stories about bail and bonding.   Things can be mighty different in other countries when it come the situations where bail is involved – such as the following tale from India.

Recently a court in India issued no bail warrants for the cast and crew of  the movie Taur Mittran Di.  It seems an attorney found the depiction of the Indian legal community in the film to be less than amusing and filed a complaint with a local court:

The counsel for complainant Harinder Singh Lali said “the lawyer fraternity was pained to see advocates being projected as laughing stock in the film”.

Furthermore, apparently there exist grounds under Indian law to pursue such a complaint:

He had prayed to take action against the erring actors u/s 499, 500 and 120B of the IPC for defaming the legal profession.

Oops.  Good thing that lawyer never saw …And Justice for All.

Now I have been known to tell lawyer jokes, especially to my dad.  My father was a judge for 22 years and not known for his sense of whimsy.  Any lawyer joke telling on my part would usually just result in muttering about changing the will.   I don’t believe he ever considered tossing me in jail and throwing away the key for having a little fun at his expense.  Then again, I was his only son.

P.S.   Still missing ya Dad.

Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, International, Smiles. Tagged with , .

International Bail Bond Scams

Jeff Downer  There has been a widespread scam involving the posting of bail bonds overseas that I would like to alert folks about, particularly grandparents.  This scam is not new but it doesn’t seem to be going away so I thought it is worth making sure folks were aware of it.

The premise of the scam is straightforward:

  • A grandparent receives a call from someone pretending to be a grandchild and/or a person acting on their behalf.
  • A false story is spun about the grandchild traveling to another country (usually Latin America), being arrested and needing bail money wired overseas.
  • That time is of the essence is emphasized to create a sense of frenzied urgency.
  • The grandparents are also urged not to contact the grandchild’s parents to avoid further family drama.

The steps to defeat the scammers are just common sense and easy to implement:

  • Don’t get flustered.  Take some time to think the situation over.
  • Ask specific questions when contacted to verify that it is indeed the grandchild in question
  • Try to call or contact the grandchild directly as well as other family members to determine what the true situation is.
  • Ask law enforcement to verify the story.

Here two news media accounts of how international bail scammers were thwarted in Massachusetts and Maine.  In one case it was simple as as calling the grandchild at home.

Finally, the FBI has issued a bulletin describing the scam and outlining what to do when contacted by potential scammers and what actions to take if you are already a victim.

Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, International, Jail, Law Enforcement. Tagged with , .

Stowaways and Bail

Jeff Downer  Bail is an international criminal justice practice.  The implementation of bail around the world can very greatly with each country and unique situations can certainly arise when determining admittance to bail.

I recently came across this news article from the Pacific island country of Fiji.   The Chief Justice of Fiji was weighing a defendant’s past history of being charged as a stowaway while deciding if he should be eligible for bail.  Apparently stowing on away is a common enough practice to be considered a criminal act in Fiji.  The court eventually decided to allow the defendant to post bail with a series of strict conditions.

I must admit that this kind of thing just doesn’t come out during bail hearings here in Indiana, but it does make me wonder if anyone rides the rails out of town anymore.

Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, International.

Bounty Hunters and Professionalism

Jeff Downer  As a bail professional I often find myself despairing over a never ending series of bounty hunter themed reality television programs hitting the airwaves.   During these programs, television production values and contrived scenarios trump depictions of responsibly conducted fugitive recovery operations.  Chief among these TV bounty hunters is Duane Chapman, better known as “Dog the Bounty Hunter”.

Mr. Chapman first gained fame by seizing fugitive cosmetics heir Andrew Luster in Mexico.  Mr Luster had fled to Mexico while facing trial in California.  Since bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, Mr. Chapman was arrested while attempting to return Mr. Luster to the US.  Eventually Mr. Chapman posted bail and proceeded to flee the Mexican authorities, becoming a fugitive himself; an embarrassing status he maintained for years before eventually outlasting Mexico’s statue of limitations and having the case dropped.

In contrast to Mr. Chapman’s Mexican experience, I recently came across an account of Jim Elliot, a fugitive recovery agent from Utah, who helped organize a successful fugitive recovery effort in Mexico which involved both the Mexican and American law enforcement communities.

As I read the account and watched the accompanying video I could not help but be impressed by the professional and effective approach Mr. Elliot employed as opposed to the Keystone Cops style adventure of Mr. Chapman.  Mr. Elliot was even able to accompany Mexican police as they made the rather exciting fugitive apprehension instead of being arrested himself.  The complete news account may be found here.

If you find yourself watching bounty hunter television shows, please keep in mind that it is just TV and remember that it is recovery agents like Jim Elliot who are the ones keeping it real.

Posted in Bounty Hunter, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement, Recovery Agent.

Travel with Outstanding Warrants

Jeff Downer  I spend a fair amount of time reading and participating in criminal justice blogs and forums.  A common concern seems to be about traveling with outstanding arrest warrants.  People want to know if they are liable to be arrested on these warrants while passing through airports and other ports of call.

The answer is arrest on an outstanding warrant is a distinct possibility.  Consider the plight of the mother who was arrested on a warrant while  disembarking from a Disney cruise with her family in Port Canaveral, FL (“Book her Mickey!”).

It seems that she had been arrested for stealing a pack of cigarettes at Walmart when she was 18.  She had failed to pay $85 in court costs and a warrant had been issued some 22 years earlier.

She remained in custody without bail for several days until she could transferred to the originating jurisdiction of the warrant and take care of the matter.

If you do have a warrant, traveler beware.

Posted in Bail, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement. Tagged with , .

Well…This is Something New.

Jeff Downer  As I get older and more jaded, I am sometimes lulled into thinking that I have heard it all when it comes to bail bonds.  Then I come across something like this.


Former Kampala socialite and jailbird Bad Black aka Shanita Namuyimbwa has successfully had her breast implants fixed after she secured a sh100m bail to seek treatment in Dubai.

Once again, I stand corrected.  All I got to say is: Dubai or bust.

Posted in Bail, International, Smiles.

Bail Bonds Around the World

Jeff Downer  When I meet new people and they discover that I am a bail bondsman they often want to talk about some preconceived ideas they have about the bail bonds.  One such idea is that bail bonds are unique to the American criminal justice system.

Actually, the use of bail is employed around the world.  While in the United States the use of bail is credited to the American legal system being based in English legal tradition, the concept of bail can be found as far back as biblical and Roman historical accounts.  Given such a broad historical background it is not surprising that release on bail is common practice through out the world.

For those accustomed to the tenets of American legal system, running across accounts of bail being granted in other countries can be a jolting experience.  While defendants are receiving bail for familiar offenses involving violence and property, bail being granted for religious and freedom of speech based crimes can often be found as well.

Included here are some news accounts of bail being granted in various countries: India, Egypt, Nigeria, New Zealand, Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) and Pakistan.



Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, International, Law, Legal. Tagged with .