- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

A clandestine dragnet involving hundreds of federal, state and local police has resulted in the arrests of more than 10,000 fugitives nationwide, federal law-enforcement authorities said yesterday.

Operation Falcon (Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally), led by the U.S. Marshals Service, included secret raids carried out by police across the country between April 4 and this past Sunday.

The effort “produced the largest number of arrests ever recorded during a single initiative,” said Marshals Service Director Ben Reyna, who announced the arrests with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in Washington yesterday.

Officers from 960 federal, state and local agencies participated, working with the marshals to clear more than 13,800 felony warrants, 234 of which were served in the D.C. area. The sweep also was a virtual clearinghouse for warrants on drug, gang, gun and sex-offender suspects nationwide.

The marshals cited the following results:

• Drug seizures: 201.

• Drug cases cleared: 162.

• Guns seized: 243.

• Documented gang members arrested: 154.

• Homicides cleared: 154.

• Sex offenders arrested: 553.

Although the marshals have led similar sweeps on the local and regional levels, Operation Falcon was the first “national-level sweep,” said John F. Clark, the U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“We wanted to let victims of crime know that something was being done to apprehend violent criminals who prey on the innocent and law-abiding members of our society,” he said of the operation, which coincided with the Justice Department’s Crime Victims Rights Week. “[This] demonstrates what can happen when local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies pool their resources.”

Congress has increased funding for the marshals in recent years. As a result, the service has taken on fugitive cases that once were controlled by the FBI, which since the September 11 attacks has been focused more on terrorism.

“In the last three years, Congress has given us a substantial amount of resources to establish five regional task forces around the country,” Mr. Clark said. “That has been a great help to us to run this national program.”

Officials said the marshals spent about $900,000 on Operation Falcon, or about $90 per arrest. More than 70 percent of those apprehended had prior arrests for violent crimes, the service said.

Among the highest-profile arrests was Marcel Baldwin, one of Atlanta’s 10 Most Wanted, who was found hiding in the makeshift cellar of a home in that city. The 21-year-old is accused of assault and sexual offense against a child.

Another high-profile arrest was Bloods street gang member Bontay Duncan, 25, who was wanted by Dallas police in connection with the shooting of two rival gang members.

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