Press Release

For Immediate Release
March 10, 2010

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

60th Anniversary of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” Program

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III today announces the FBI’s commemoration of its famous “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” program, created 60 years ago.

In 1949, a reporter for the International News Service (the predecessor to United Press International) approached the FBI and asked about writing a story about the "toughest guys” being sought by the FBI at the time. The Bureau provided the names and descriptions of 10 fugitives to the reporter. The resulting feature became a major story and gained national attention. As a consequence of overwhelming public interest, on March 14, 1950, then-Director J. Edgar Hoover inaugurated the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program.

Since then, the FBI, through the “Top Ten” list, has been asking for help from the public to locate America's most dangerous fugitives. The response has been impressive. Since 1950, 494 fugitives have appeared on the list; 463 have been apprehended or located, with 152 of those fugitives located as a direct result of citizen cooperation.

As the nature of crime and FBI priorities have evolved over the years, the makeup of the Top Ten list has also changed. While the list began with bank robbers and murder suspects fleeing state jurisdiction, it has evolved into a search for major organized crime figures, serial killers, domestic and international terrorists, cyber criminals, and white-collar criminals. During this last decade, the list has mirrored the international scope of crime, as well as the importance of strong global partnerships in the search for violent criminals who know no boundaries and pose a significant danger to all.

Just as the composition of the list of Top Ten fugitives has changed over the years, the ways in which the FBI communicates with the public have also been revolutionized by technological advancements. While the publication of fugitive information via newspapers and magazines initially brought broader participation to the program, the FBI now uses the Internet, television, social media, and digital billboards as it continues to seek the public’s assistance in locating wanted fugitives. “We recognize the unique ability of the media to cast a wider net within communities here and abroad. The FBI can send agents to visit a thousand homes to find a witness, but the media can visit a million homes in an instant,” stated Director Mueller. The globalization of crime has brought foreign media and foreign broadcasting services into the pursuit of international criminals.

The FBI places a high priority on the fugitive investigations represented on the list. At a minimum, a reward of up to $100,000 is offered by the FBI for information leading directly to the arrest of a Top Ten fugitive. In some instances, the reward amount offered exceeds $100,000.

That reporter's idea, so many years ago, to form a partnership among law enforcement, the media, and the citizens of the world, continues to prove beneficial today. As the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program celebrates 60 years of success, the expectation is that it will continue to empower citizens across the country and around the world to safely and effectively assist law enforcement for years to come.

More information about the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program is available on the FBI’s Internet home page at www.fbi.gov.

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