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Press Release

Federal, State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement Conduct “Operation Fall Clean Up” to Clear Warrants for Violent Offenses as Part of Project Safe Neighborhoods

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

67 violent felony fugitives arrested in weeklong operation

More than 650 guns taken off the streets in Rapid City since January 2018

Gun-related prosecutions have increased 50 percent District-wide

Shootings in Rapid City have declined dramatically since January 2018

RAPID CITY, SD – United States Attorney Ron Parsons and United States Marshal Dan Mosteller today announced a multi-agency law enforcement operation that resulted in dozens of arrests in the Rapid City area as part of the District of South Dakota’s renewed Project Safe Neighborhoods program.

For the past week, the U.S. Marshals have been working in collaboration with law enforcement officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration, Rapid City Police Department, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, South Dakota Highway Patrol, Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation to track down and apprehend some of the Rapid City area’s most violent and persistent offenders with outstanding state and federal felony warrants for violent crimes, drug trafficking, and sex offenses.

The objective of "Operation Fall Clean Up," as designated by the U.S. Marshals Service, was to clear as many outstanding warrants for violent offenses from federal and state rolls as possible in order to make a positive impact on public safety for the entire Black Hills region.

The operation began in the early morning of Monday, September 16, 2019, and continued until the afternoon of Friday, September 20, 2019. By the end of the operation, deputy marshals and other law enforcement officers on the fugitive task force teams arrested 67 targeted fugitives with state or federal felony warrants for violent crimes, drugs, and sex offenses. And an additional 10 felony warrants were cleared for collateral subjects who were not initially targeted by the operation.

In all 77 federal and state felony warrants were cleared. The arrestees are among the most violent and active offenders in the Rapid City area. Investigations are currently underway to determine how many of those arrested in this operation will be charged in state or federal court with additional crimes.

"The resounding success of this operation is a testament to the courage, professionalism, and dedication of law enforcement officers at every level here in our state," said U.S. Attorney Parsons. "I want to thank all of the officers and agencies involved for removing these violent offenders from our communities and placing them in custody where they belong."

"This operation is an excellent example of what people can accomplish when they work together. In this endeavor, law enforcement has banded together to arrest the worst of the worst in our communities. They are locked up where they can no longer continue to commit violent crimes against our families, and especially our children," said U.S. Marshal Mosteller.

This warrant operation was conducted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated Project Safe Neighborhoods in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and local communities to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

At the beginning of 2018, U.S. Attorney Parsons designated Rapid City and the surrounding communities as the initial target area for the Department of Justice’s reinvigoration of Project Safe Neighborhoods in the District of South Dakota. Since that time, federal prosecutions of gun-related crimes in the District of South Dakota have increased by approximately fifty percent, with most of that increase coming from the District’s Western Division. The collective efforts of our law enforcement partners under Project Safe Neighborhoods have taken more than 650 guns off the streets in Rapid City alone since the beginning of 2018.

This focus on gun-related crimes has produced results. From 2017 to 2018, shootings in the Rapid City area declined significantly. According to the Rapid City Police Department, in 2017, there were a total of 50 non-fatal shootings in the Rapid City area. In 2018, that number decreased to less than 20, with the vast majority of those coming in the first quarter of 2018, when the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative was reinvigorated in Rapid City with the help of Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris, Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, and Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo. In the last three quarters of 2018, there were only five such shootings. This favorable trend has continued into 2019.

Law enforcement representatives at today’s Project Safe Neighborhoods press conference, held at the Public Safety Building in Rapid City, included:

Ron Parsons: U.S. Attorney, District of South Dakota

Dan Mosteller: U.S. Marshal, District of South Dakota

Jason Ravnsborg: Attorney General, State of South Dakota

Don Hedrick: Assistant Police Chief - Rapid City Police Department

Jeromey Smith: Pennington County Sheriff’s Office

Mark Vargo: Pennington County State’s Attorney

Jonathan Ortiz: ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge

Brett Garland: South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation

Brian Swets: Sergeant – South Dakota Highway Patrol

Leonard Her Many Horses: Lt. Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety

Updated September 24, 2019

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods