International cooperation brings fugitive to justice

  • Published
  • By SA Keith Harper
  • AFOSI Detachment 541

Nearly two years ago Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 541, London, United Kingdom, began coordination with the Metropolitan Police, London Regional Security Office, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Army Staff Judge Advocate Corps, the UK Home Office, Ministry of Defense Police, and U.S. Air Forces in Europe UK legal staff to find a path to arrange the apprehension of a wanted U.S. soldier. This matter dragged on since 2013 and was a constant recurring issue for the UK Home Office and for members of the U.S. Mission in London.

Over the last two weeks Det. 541 led a bilateral operation among AFOSI, the National Police Chiefs’ Council International Crime Coordination Centre, Barking Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police, and Devon & Cornwall Police to arrest and bring that person into police custody.

Their combined efforts resulted in the May 31, 2019, arrest of Corporal Robert Louis Barnett, a U.S. Army deserter on the U.S. Army’s Most Wanted List, who fled the United States to avoid prosecution for numerous cases of Indecent Acts With Children. Barnett is in a Barnstaple Devon jail awaiting transfer to United States military jurisdiction. 

“What a great example of international cooperation bringing about justice and safety to others,” wrote Brig. Gen. Terry L. Bullard, AFOSI Commander, in an email to Region 5 leadership and the Det. 541 special agents handling the case. “The UK and world are a little safer now because of your actions.”

In 2013 Barnett, was caught in an FBI Internet Crime Against Children sting prior to his desertion, and has been living as a fugitive in the UK for six years, where he has been arrested by UK authorities for other charges on multiple occasions.

Barnett attempted to evade capture in multiple ways over the last two weeks, however through the cooperation of all law enforcement and government agencies involved, Barnett is now facing a magistrate’s arraignment. On June 1, 2019, evidence was presented to the Barnstaple Magistrate that Barnett should be immediately transferred to U.S. custody and be transported to the nearest U.S. Military Confinement Center pending return to the United States.

“Besides taking a child predator off the streets and enabling the capture of an Army’s most wanted fugitive, this was a big liaison win for Det. 541,” wrote Col. Shan B. Nuckols, AFOSI Region 5 Commander, to AFOSI headquarters.”

No force was used to arrest of Barnett. He has been ordered by the Army to be placed in confinement at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, UK. Det. 541 special agents are working to remand Barnett into U.S custody.