Good morning. Thank you all very much for being here. We are here today to announce the results of a massive fugitive arrest operation called “Operation Orange Crush.” I am honored to share the stage with these fine men and women of law enforcement who helped make this Operation possible.
There are many other brave law enforcement agents who participated – men and women all across the state of Florida. We all owe them a thank you for their public service.
Operation Orange Crush was led by the United States Marshals Service and ran from July 7th to September 12th throughout Florida. Through an incredible partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the operation targeted the “worst of the worst” fugitives, and resulted in over 2,400 arrests throughout the state. We are confident that all the citizens of Florida are safer as a consequence.
The U.S. Marshals targeted fugitives who are gang members, sex offenders, and those wanted for serious violent felonies. In planning the sweep, we asked state and local authorities to give us the names of those fugitives who were their highest priority, and that is who we went after. More than 100 of those arrested were wanted on homicide charges.
Our success in Florida is part of a larger effort nationwide. Since 2005, federal, state, and local law enforcement agents across the country have captured over 55,000 fugitives as part of Operation FALCON. Taken together, all of these efforts demonstrate the commitment of the Department of Justice to work with our state and local partners to find dangerous fugitives and to bring them to justice. We recognize the damage done by these fugitives—both the physical threat they pose to our communities, as well as the psychological threat they pose to the peace of mind of ordinary citizens. We hope that parents, the elderly, and everyone will rest easier tonight because of the fugitive apprehension efforts.
Operation Orange Crush was made possible because of targeted funding from the United States Congress, and on behalf of the Marshals Service and the Department of Justice, I would like to thank our legislators for their support. Congress’s investment has immediately made our streets safer. It has also allowed the Marshals Service to build toward the future by beginning to develop the infrastructure for a regional fugitive task force in Florida. We are extremely grateful for the support Congress has given us in this effort, and if we receive additional funding in the future, we will be ready to quickly finish the job and stand up a permanent task force here. With such a task force up and running, the Marshals and their partners will be able to apprehend dangerous fugitives every day.
All of our efforts in this area serve as a continued warning to fugitives from justice that wherever they are hiding, we will work together to find them. Equally important, these efforts assure our citizens that we are going after violent gangs, child predators, and others hiding from the law. I would like to thank the law enforcement leaders standing with me today for their outstanding contributions. And in particular, thank you to the agents from throughout the state who pursued these violent fugitives and who put their lives on the line to keep the citizens of Florida safe. We are all extraordinarily grateful for your efforts.
Now let me please turn the microphone over to the Director of the U.S. Marshals Service, John Clark. Thank you very much.