United States arrests 10,340 fugitives in first-of-kind nationwide sweep

Friday, April 15, 2005

U.S. Marshal Multi-Agency Team with Fugitive and Bystanders Source: US Marshals Service

The United States Marshals Service working together with nearly 960 other law enforcement agencies recently concluded a week-long operation, Operation FALCON, which succeeded in the arrest of 10,340 fugitives across the United States and elsewhere. Other regional sweeps have been conducted before; but this was the first of its kind at the national level and resulted in the highest number of arrests ever recorded in a single operation.

Operation FALCON, which stands for "Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally", received the cooperation of more than 3,000 law enforcement agents from the US Marshals, state, county and city level, and other US agencies. Operations were also coordinated internationally with INTERPOL and the US State Department, resulting in the detainment of 16 foreign and international fugitives.

Operation FALCON was conducted during a one week period, April 4-10, 2005, chosen to coincide with National Crime Victim's Rights Week, April 10-16, the dates being chosen to "honor the victims" of violent crime in America. “By taking violent fugitives off the streets and putting them behind bars where they belong,” said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, “we've honored the victims and made our streets safer.”

The focus of Operation FALCON was on apprehending fugitives wanted for violent crimes, gang activities, drug trafficking, and sex-related offenses. Arrests were made in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and in several International locales.

“I applaud the achievements of every Deputy Marshal, police officer, detective, trooper, investigator, deputy sheriff, and special agent who hit the street virtually around-the-clock for seven days,” said Robert J. Finan II, the Marshals Service’s Assistant Director for Investigative Services. He continued, “Also of note is that during the course of this initiative, there were no serious incidents or serious injuries to either law enforcement officers or those who were taken into custody.”

Seized Weapons and Body Armor from Operation FALCON Source: US Marshals Service

Arrest highlights

Here are some of the arrests that were highlighted by press releases of the US Marshals.

Michael Leahy, attempted child abduction

  • Since 2001, Leahy, now age 29, has been a fugitive wanted by Tazwell County, Illinois Sheriff's Office for unlawful use of weapons, attempted child abduction, and resisting a police officer
  • Caught trying to lure children into a church van with seven weapons stashed inside; also found in possession of child pornography on his computer
  • Tracked by Operation FALCON teams to Ireland, then London, where he was arrested April 8; extradition to the US is pending

Sharwinn Lilly, cocaine smuggling and money laundering

  • Lilly, a.k.a. Nigel Rodney, and 24 other suspects wanted in connection with narcotics smuggling and money laundering ring of US citizens and Guyanese nationals operating through JFK airport; under investigation since May 2004
  • 18 suspected members of Lilly's organization were arrested in the two days following Lilly's arrest on April 4
  • About US$20,000 dollars cash, cocaine and a firearm were seized