I am joined today by John Clark, Director of the United States Marshals Service; William Fallon, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Virginia and the Commander of Operation FALCON 2008; John Cary Bittick, Sheriff of Monroe County, Georgia, representing the National Sheriffs’ Association; and Mark Marshall, Chief of Police in Smithfield, Virginia, representing the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
We are here to announce the successful conclusion of Operation FALCON 2008, a fugitive apprehension effort involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that took place from June 1 to June 30 of this year. Led by the U.S. Marshals Service, the operation resulted in the arrest of more than 19,000 fugitives from justice, and cleared more than 25,000 warrants, which makes it the single most productive fugitive apprehension effort in U.S. history.
This is the fifth Operation FALCON in five years. This year’s good work brings the total number of fugitives captured as a result of FALCON operations to more than 55,000. That means many thousands of violent offenders, drug dealers, gang members and sexual predators have been removed from America’s streets. In short, it means safer streets.
In just a few minutes, Director Clark will talk about more specific statistics from this year’s operation. What I would like to do is simply to highlight the cooperation necessary to achieve these outstanding results, and to commend the many law enforcement agencies that stepped up and gave it.
FALCON stands for "Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally," and this truly was an organized and national effort. Under the leadership of Director Clark and Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Fallon, the level of partnership displayed among federal, state, and local law enforcement was unprecedented. It brought together more than 1,600 federal, state, and local agencies across virtually every federal district and 49 states.
The operation involved 30 different federal agencies alone, including the Marshals, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Postal Inspection Service to name just a few. Operation FALCON is a perfect example of how law enforcement can and should work together, and of the successes that come from that cooperation.
The operation also shows specifically the importance of working together with our state and local partners to reduce violent crime. This year’s Operation FALCON was driven largely by the strong partnerships between the Marshals and their state and local counterparts, including the National Sheriffs’ Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, both of which are represented here today.
Following the previous more targeted FALCON operations, state and local agencies expressed strong interest in working again with federal law enforcement to remove fugitives from their streets. So this year's operation aimed broadly at apprehending as many fugitives as possible, in as many communities as possible.
The result is not just a number or an abstract idea, but real differences for real people – for our citizens and for our communities. As a former judge, I have seen the destructive consequences even one dangerous fugitive can have on a community, and I have seen the benefits that come from removing that individual from the streets. Taking fugitives, especially violent fugitives, off our streets means fewer crimes and fewer victims.
Consider the case of two men who were arrested as part of Operation FALCON on June 27 in Laredo, Texas. They were wanted for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for severely beating another man at a party. When they were arrested, agents found evidence of even more violence to come: several firearms, including a semi-automatic handgun and an AK-47 assault rifle, and numerous magazines for the firearms. Agents also located more than 50 grams of cocaine and equipment and supplies used to weigh and package narcotics. The two men now face additional drug and firearms charges.
They, like anyone charged in our legal system, are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and we welcome the opportunity to present their case in a court of law. But it is safe to say that the people of Laredo and elsewhere are more secure because these fugitives are in custody, and I salute the agents and officers involved in their capture.
Operation FALCON 2008, as I said earlier, is the fifth in a series of successful FALCON operations. The dedication and cooperation of all those participating in this year’s FALCON operation serves as a continued warning to fugitives from justice that wherever they are hiding, we will work together to find them. Equally important, it gives assurance to all who live in communities threatened by violent gangs, child predators, or others hiding from the law, that there are U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement officers determined to join together and to fight those threats.
I would now like to turn the microphone over to the Director of the U.S. Marshals Service, John Clark.
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