Two Afghan policemen who were in the United States for drug trafficking training and vanished over the weekend have been found, says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The two men - Mohammad Yasin Ataye, 22, and Mohd Naweed Samimi, 24 - were picked up Thursday night and returned to Quantico, said Rusty Payne, a DEA spokesman. Payne did not have details on where they were found but added that they, along with the other Sensitive Investigative Unit program participants, will return to Afghanistan tonight as scheduled.
A federal law enforcement official confirmed the Afghan nationals were picked up in Buffalo, NY without incident.
The two men were part of a group of 31 Afghan police officers who were in the U.S. for a five-week intensive DEA training program to combat drug trafficking in in Quantico, VA. The group was bussed to Georgetown on Saturday for a day of sightseeing, which included an evening boat ride. DEA special agents accompanying the group realized the two men were missing when they failed to show up for the boat's 7 p.m. departure.
According to the DEA, each candidate was extensively vetted and polygraphed. Ataye and Samimi entered the U.S. in mid-August with special visas and were participating in the DEA's Sensitive Investigative Unit Program (SIU) which offers law enforcement agents from 13 countries training in surveillance, undercover operations and intelligence gathering among other things. Classes are taken on field trips on weekends.
Federal authorities said Thursday they believed the men might be heading to the Buffalo, N.Y. area where they might try to reunite with a relative.
The last time the DEA lost track of its trainees was 10 years ago when a pair of Pakistani officers fled to Houston in search of better conditions. They issued a formal apology and were sent back to their home country.