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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday, November 2, 2006

MORE THAN 10,700 FUGITIVE ARRESTS BY NATIONALLY COORDINATED
U.S. MARSHALS’ OPERATION FALCON III

367 Arrested in Eastern North Carolina

RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E. B. Holding and Acting United States Marshal Robert D. Pettit today announced the results of Operation FALCON III conducted October 22-28, 2006. More than 367 fugitives were arrested in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

U. S. Attorney Holding stated, “the citizens of eastern North Carolina are safer today because federal and state law enforcement are working hard and working as a team.”

In the Eastern District of North Carolina, 367 arrests were made, 415 warrants were cleared, including 125 warrants cleared administratively, and 20 sex offenders were arrested, of which 10 were sex offenders who failed to register as required by law. Other state and local arrest warrants that were executed included violations for arson (2), assault (25), burglary and larceny (87), extortion (3), financial fraud (114), kidnaping (2), narcotics (174), robbery (10), stolen vehicles (16), weapons (8) and other charges (57).

One of those fugitives arrested in the Eastern District of North Carolina was Jose Esteban Ramirez De La Cruz. De La Cruz was wanted by Raleigh Police Department for first degree sex offense and first degree kidnaping. He is currently in custody awaiting further judicial proceedings.

Acting U. S. Marshal Pettit, for the Eastern District of North Carolina said, “this effort demonstrates the rapid response from federal, state, and local agencies working in concert to apprehend an alleged sex offender.”

Nationally, Deputy U. S. Marshals and their law enforcement partners arrested 10,773 fugitives and cleared 13,333 felony warrants during the seven-day operation, including 365 documented gang members, and 1,659 sexual offenders, of which 971 were unregistered sex offenders. Also, 3,609 warrants for narcotics violations and 140 homicide warrants were executed.

At a Press Conference in Washington, D. C. this morning, United States Marshal Director John F. Clark said, “These numbers mean safer streets for the citizens of communities all over this country. We have not only brought those wanted fugitives to justice, but we have, hopefully, brought a bit of peace to our communities.”

Operation FALCON III was conducted in 24 states east of the Mississippi River, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Deputy Marshals teamed up with thousands of officers, deputies, troopers, agents and investigators from other federal state and local agencies to conduct this third operation in a continuing series of national fugitive apprehension efforts. The priorities for the execution of Operation FALCON III were the apprehension of sexual predators, sex offenders who failed to register as required by law, fugitives with gang affiliations and other dangerous fugitive felons who remain undetected and continue to commit crime in our cities and neighborhoods across the country. Operation FALCON III received a major boost from the Adam Walsh Act, named after the murdered son of America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh. The law directs federal resources to round up sexual predators and help state and local government catch convicted individuals who fail to register as required by law in the communities where they live.

U. S. Attorney Holding explained that ”sex offender registration is one of the lynchpins in protecting our communities from sexual predators. Every parent and every citizen should be able to determine at anytime whether they have people in their communities that prompt special safety concerns. The Adam Walsh Act has given teeth to sex offender registration by providing stiff punishment for sex offenders who try to evade their responsibility to register and put communities on notice. Failure to register is now punishable under federal law by up to 10 years' imprisonment, and anyone who commits another offense while having failed to register as required is subject to heavy sentencing enhancements that will be tacked on to the sentence for the underlying crime. Operation FALCON III is a strong first step in showing that our district is serious about enforcing these laws."

At this morning’s national Press Conference, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated, “Operation FALCON III has once again proven how much we can accomplish with our network of federal, state, and local law enforcement. This Operation has made our nation’s neighborhoods and children safer by taking off the streets some of the worst sex offenders, violent felons and gang members.”

In 2005, during the first Operation FALCON, 959 law enforcement agencies assisted the U. S. Marshals in conducting the largest apprehension operation ever undertaken. In one week, this combined force of law enforcement officers located and arrested 10,300 fugitive felons. Because of that success, the Attorney General asked the U. S. Marshals’ Service to launch a similar operation in 2006. In order to more effectively concentrate personnel, this initiative was planned in two phases. The first phase, Operation FALCON II, was conducted in the western part of the country in April, 2006. During Operation FALCON II, 9037 dangerous fugitives were arrested including 1102 violent sexual offenders. Almost 800 law enforcement agencies participation putting more than 2100 officers on the street each day of the operation.

Agencies who participated in last week’s Operation FALCON III include: U. S. Marshals; Service, U. S. Department of Homeland Security - Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Federal Bureau of Investigation; U. S. Department of State; U. S. Marshals Service; North Carolina Probation and Parole; Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Nash County Sheriff’s Office, Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, Wake County Sheriff’s Office, Warren County Sheriff’s Office; and agents from Cary Police Department, Fayetteville Police Department, Fuquay-Varina Police Department, Greenville Police Department, Holly Springs Police Department, Kinston Police Department, Knightdale Division of Public Safety, Raleigh Police Department, Sharpsburg Police Department, Smithfield Police Department, Spring Lake Police Department, Wake Forest Police Department, Wendell Police Department, Wilmington Police Department, and Wilson Police Department. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also provided valuable assistance.

 

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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