Authorities announced on Wednesday that U.S. Marshals and local police participated in a six-week joint operation that saw the arrest of more than 13,000 fugitives with open warrants as part of a national operation targeting the “worst of the worst” violent repeat offenders across the most crime-ravaged cities in the nation.
Referred to as Operation Violence Reduction 12, the aim was to target individuals wanted for serious and violent crimes such as murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. The sweep focused on 12 cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C., that have displayed recent spikes in violent criminal activities. The Justice Department announced the results and showed that between Feb. 1 and March 11, the marshals, working with local authorities, targeted and brought in 8,045 fugitives who had open warrants for violent crimes and arrested another 5,446 fugitives throughout the course of the operation.
Many reports claimed that there were over 8,000 arrests made, but as the Washington Times reveals, that figure did not take into account the fugitives arrested that were not part of the original list of repeat offenders the U.S. Marshals were after. They reportedly cleared 9,613 warrants, arrested 559 persons for homicide, 946 for sexual offenses, and seized 71.52 kilograms of drugs. There were also 648 known gang members arrested.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates gave a press conference in Washington that explained the process the U.S. Marshals went through in their efforts to arrest the violent repeat offenders.
“This took a whole lot of planning, and this was not an easy task. This was not a dragnet- type operation designed to arrest anyone with an outstanding warrant. It was focused and targeted. That’s because we know that the majority of violence in our communities can usually be traced to a relatively small number of bad actors.”
To qualify as a person of interest in this operation, the criminal suspect had to have a rap sheet consisting of at least seven prior arrests and no fewer than three convictions for violent crimes. The LA Times mentioned that the U.S. Marshals and the local police focused their attention on capturing not only repeat offenders, but those prone to violence. Yates believes that the project would help combat violent crimes in the local communities of the twelve targeted cities and indeed across the country by removing criminals of the most dangerous calibre from the streets.
Fortunately, there were no law enforcement officials shot or killed during the warrant operation, but the U.S. Marshals did run into several incidents. Six fugitives were allegedly killed after engaging in shootouts with the law enforcement officials, and five more fugitives actually committed suicide in order to avoid arrest.
Yates was joined at the press conference by Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis who praised Operation Violence Reduction and its results as well as stating that it could be an essential part of restoring confidence in the police. Baltimore has been battling a severe spike in deadly violence in recent years and recorded its deadliest year in 2015 when it ended with a tally of 344 killings. Davis states that this year has already seen more witnesses coming forward to provide tips on criminal activities and there have been “encouraging results in the homicide closure rate.” One hundred and forty-eight fugitives were arrested in the city during the sweep, and that included 23 persons wanted for murder.
“We have violent repeat offenders who kill again and again. The impact of getting them off the street as quickly as possible is paramount in a city like Baltimore.”
[Photo Courtesy of Manuel Balce Ceneta/ AP Images]