Deputy United States Marshals teamed up with thousands of fellow federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to conduct the largest ever round up of fugitive sex-offenders, wanted gang members, and violent felony offenders, according to an indepth report submitted to the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Dubbed “Operation FALCON III” (Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally), Deputy Marshals and their fellow task force members arrested 10,773 felony fugitives, the largest operation of its kind in US history. This number includes 1,659 sex offenders and 364 documented gang members arrested nationwide.
“These numbers mean safer streets for the citizens of communities all over this country,” said Marshals Service Director John Clark. “We have not only brought those wanted fugitives to justice, but we have hopefully brought a bit of peace to their communities.”
In the Northern District of Florida, one of those fugitives was Douglas Bryant, who was wanted by the State of Alabama on two sex offense warrants, including Failure to Register as a Sexual Offender. Bryant was originally arrested in Alabama for 2nd Degree Rape of a 15 year old female with a mental disability.
Deputy Marshals in Alabama forwarded an investigative lead to the U. S. Marshal Service sponsored North Florida Violent Fugitive Task Force which led task force members to several locations in Tallahassee. After several interviews and a thorough search of one residence on Bicycle Street in Tallahassee, Bryant was located hiding underneath a mattress in a box spring which was partially hollowed out in order to conceal him from authorities. The US Marshals Service in North Florida is also in the process of seeking additional federal charges against Bryant under the new Adam Walsh Act.
Honing in on sexual predators and fugitive gang members, Operation FALCON III’s success comes on the heels of the “Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act,” which was signed into law by President Bush on July 27, 2006. The Act makes it a federal felony, punishable by up to ten years imprisonment, for convicted sex offenders who fail to register and who travel in interstate or foreign commerce. The US Marshals Service was designated by the Act as the agency to lead the national effort to track down and arrest these fugitive felons.
“The Attorney General and the Director consider Operation FALCON III to be a significant event marking the Department’s effort to combat sex offenders and crimes against children in conjunction with the Adam Walsh Act,” said Arthur D. Roderick, the Marshals Service’s Assistant Director for Investigative Services.
“There is no question the collective criminal investigative resources of the Marshals and our federal, state, and local partners made a major contribution to this important crime initiative,” he said.
Locally, the US Marshals North Florida Violent Fugitive Task Force operation cleared 313 warrants by arresting 216 fugitives throughout the Northern District of Florida which includes 23 counties from Pensacola to Gainesville. Of the 216 fugitives arrested, 96 were arrested in the Tallahassee area, including Leon, Gadsden, and Wakulla counties. Additionally, 61 fugitives were arrested in the Gainesville area and 59 fugitives were arrested in the Pensacola area.
In total thirty-three (33) sex offenders and three (3) documented gang members were arrested, in addition to arrests of three (3) suspects wanted on attempted homicide warrants, fourteen (14) wanted for firearm offenses, fifty-seven (57) wanted for assault and battery crimes, nine (9) wanted for armed robbery and seventy-six (76) wanted for narcotic violations. All fugitives targeted by the task force and arrested during this operation were identified because they were classified as violent felons.
US Marshal Williamson stated “this operation, along with our past FALCON efforts, provides a clear indication of what law enforcement agencies can accomplish when there is cooperation on all levels—federal, state and local. When we share information and pool our resources towards a common goal, the results are safer communities for our children and a more secure homeland.”
The US Marshals, North Florida Violent Fugitive Task Force, FALCON III operation consisted of 170 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers making up 17 separate arrest teams throughout the one week period. Immediately prior to the start of this operation, all state and local law enforcement officers were sworn in as special deputy US marshals in order to provide them with broader jurisdictional authority.
Throughout the week, this special authority from the US Marshals Service empowered all FALCON III personnel to cross traditional lines of jurisdiction to track down and arrest targeted fugitives.
Assistant Chief Frank Chiumento, who served as the US Marshals supervisor of the FALCON III operation in the Northern District of Florida stated, “This operation is an excellent example of what can be achieved when law enforcement agencies combine their resources. We are appreciative of the dedication and devotion of all the law enforcement officers who worked long and grueling hours to ensure these violent offenders were taken off the streets. We’re thankful we had a safe and successful operation.”
“For many of these men and women participating in FALCON III, they were just doing their jobs; but I’m sure families across the country would beg to differ, especially when it comes to the safety of our children,” he added.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.