It is my privilege to be here today with so many hardworking law enforcement partners. I want to thank Ben Reyna, director of the U.S. Marshals Service, and our representatives from state and local law enforcement. Thank you for coming.
This week, our Nation commemorates the 25th anniversary of National Victims' Rights Week. We dedicate every Victims' Rights Week to remembering the suffering of victims and to reaffirming our Nation's commitment to build a more compassionate justice system-a justice system that puts the needs of victims at its core.
First and foremost among those needs is the need for victims to see perpetrators apprehended and prosecuted for their crimes.
In conjunction with this year's National Victims' Rights Week, the Justice Department, together with our partners in the state and local law enforcement, launched Operation FALCON earlier this month-the Nation's largest effort to track down and arrest fugitives from justice.
Operation FALCON was a cooperative law enforcement effort coordinated by the United States Marshals Service and involving a host of our friends in the justice community across the Nation-from the Secret Service, DEA, and ATF to local sheriffs, police, troopers, and parole officers. This joint federal, state, and local operation involved a total of 25 federal law enforcement agencies, 204 state law enforcement agencies, 364 local police departments, and 360 county sheriff's departments.
I am pleased to announce the results of this unprecedented cooperation: Operation FALCON has led to the highest number of arrests ever recorded for a single initiative of its kind.
From dawn of April 4th to midnight on April 10th, the deputy marshals, special agents, officers, detectives, state troopers, investigators, and deputy sheriffs involved in Operation FALCON arrested more than 10,300 fugitives from justice.
They cleared 13,851 warrants, seized 243 guns, and arrested 154 gang members.
Thanks to Operation FALCON, more than 160 homicides were cleared, more than 4,200 drug cases were cleared, and more than 550 sex offenders were arrested-106 of whom were unregistered.
In the first 24 hours alone of Operation FALCON, we apprehended 1,489 defendants.
These record fugitive arrest statistics are important for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most importantly, in looking at our arrest numbers, we found that most of these fugitives were not first-time offenders. More than 70 percent had prior arrest records for crimes of violence.
These defendants had long rap sheets and they have been free to roam the streets for far too long.
We know from history-and from the bitter experiences of far too many victims-that a fugitive with a rap sheet is more desperate, more predatory, and more likely to commit the crimes that plague citizens and communities.
Many of those caught in Operation FALCON showed how dangerous some of these fugitives can be:
It is important to remember that the charges against these individuals are allegations. They remain innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but there is probably cause of criminal conduct.
Operation FALCON is an excellent example of President Bush's direction and this Department's dedication to deal both with the relatively new terrorist threats and traditional violent crime. It shows the commitment of our federal, state, and local partners to make our neighborhoods safer. We intend to use all of our Nation's law enforcement resources to serve the people, to pursue justice, and to make our streets and Nation safer.
We know from September 11, how important it is for law enforcement to work together to share resources, information, and expertise.
I would like to extend my thanks to all the men and women of federal law enforcement from all ranks and every level of government who were involved in Operation FALCON.
The credit for this successful operation belongs primarily to you. You are all to be commended.
I particularly wish to recognize the following groups for attending today:
As President Bush often says, the power of America is in her people. We are compassionate, but we are also a people of deep resolve.
When we work together as citizens and as public servants to ensure every violent offender and every fugitive faces the bar of justice, we unite our compassion and resolve. We show our concern for victims and our commitment to justice.
I thank all those involved in Operation FALCON for their achievements and for their example.
Now I ask the Director of the U.S. Marshals, Ben Reyna, to comment on Operation FALCON.