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Ten-Week Operation Targets Violent Offenders Statewide
MIAMI – Scores of fugitives – from the Panhandle to the Keys – are now behind bars courtesy of a U.S. Marshals-led sweep targeting the “worst-of-the-worst” offenders statewide.
The U.S. Marshals Service, assisted by federal, state and local law enforcement across Florida, arrested 2,497 fugitives and cleared 2,943 warrants statewide as part of Operation Orange Crush. The results of this ten-week operation were announced here today by Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, U.S. Marshals Service Director John F. Clark and U.S. Marshal Christina Pharo of the Southern District of Florida.
A number of sites were chosen for the operation. In the Northern District of Florida, operations were conducted in Gainesville, Panama City, Pensacola and Tallahassee. In the Middle District of Florida, operations took place in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa. In the Southern District of Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, Miami, Monroe County and West Palm Beach all took part in the operation. During the course of the operation, the U.S. Marshal provided extra personnel and equipment to support the statewide fugitive apprehension efforts.
“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,” said Deputy Attorney General Filip. “Equally important, these efforts assure our citizens that we are going after violent gangs, child predators, and others hiding from the law.”
Operation Orange Crush is the first-ever major fugitive apprehension effort led by the U.S. Marshals Service that was completely coordinated and executed on behalf of a single state.
During Operation Orange Crush, an emphasis was placed on the capture of violent gang members and sex offenders. Statewide, the operation arrested 55 gang members and 255 sex offenders. Among those brought in:
• Tony Hayward – a gang member involved in a homicide
• Freddie Chavers – a gang member involved in an abduction and a homicide
• Torrance Bell – a gang member involved in an abduction and a homicide
• Aristeo Ramirez-Linares – suspected of sexually molesting his step daughter since she was five years old
• Sherard Henderson – a previously convicted sex offender arrested for Lewd and Lascivious Molestation of the Elderly
• Jorge Perez-Gonzalez – a previously convicted sex offender arrested for burglarizing a residence and brutally assaulting its female occupant in an attempt to rape her
Director Clark has overseen a number of large-scale apprehension efforts – including four FALCON operations – since becoming head of the agency in March, 2006. “When we were planning Operation Orange Crush we had hoped for several outcomes, to include the arrest of a significant number of fugitives and to continue developing the working relationships between the Marshals and our state and local counterparts,” said Director Clark. “We succeeded on all counts, but I know everyone associated with this operation sees this as only the beginning – there is more we should and can do to combat crime in Florida.”
The Southern District of Florida, led by U.S. Marshal Christina Pharo, participated in three FALCON operations. “Operation Orange Crush was an example of the extraordinary investigative capabilities that arise when multiple law enforcement agencies join forces. With our partners from state, local and other federal agencies, we apprehended some of the most violent criminals and sex offenders preying on the citizens of South Florida,” said Marshal Pharo. “This operation may have ended, but our efforts to locate and apprehend these wanted criminals will not. We will continue to offer our assistance to our friends in law enforcement and make every effort to rid our streets of these criminals.”
In addition to the numerous gang members and sex offenders apprehended during Operation Orange Crush, 113 homicide arrests were made and 76 weapons were seized.
The concept behind broad, interagency law enforcement operations such as Operation Orange Crush evolved largely from smaller, local/regional task forces. Groups such as these have historically combined local, state and federal agencies to find and apprehend area fugitives. The U.S. Marshals adopted such interagency teamwork in the early 1980s, when they combined their resources and expertise in fugitive apprehension with the local knowledge and unique insight of officers on the street level.
In order to provide participating agencies with broader jurisdictional authority, all state and local law enforcement officers were sworn in as Special Deputy U.S. Marshals immediately prior to the start of the operation. Throughout the course of Operation Orange Crush, this special authority from the U.S. Marshals Service empowered all local and state law enforcement officers to cross traditional lines of jurisdiction to track down and arrest targeted fugitives.
Director Clark emphasized that these operations work because local law enforcement officers strive to make a difference in their own communities. “The Marshals Deputies that work these operations live in the communities they serve,” said Director Clark. “Their children go to school here, they attend community events, ballgames and they shop and go to church here. For both personal and professional reasons, they have a stake in ridding their communities of crime. They want their neighbors and their families to be safe and they are doing something about it.”
Those involved in Operation Orange Crush in South Florida include: DOJ/United States Marshals Service, DOJ/United States Attorneys Office, DOJ/Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, DHS/Immigration & Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of State, Division of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Florida Attorney General’s Office, Florida Department of Corrections, Probation & Parole, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, Martin County Sheriff’s Office, Miami-Dade County Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, City of Hialeah Police Department, City of Miami Beach Police Department, City of Miami Police Department, City of Miramar Police Department, Coral Gables Police Department, Coral Springs Police Department, Davie Police Department, Delray Beach Police Department, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Fort Pierce Police Department, Lake Worth Police Department, Lantana Police Department, Miami Gardens Police Department, Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, Pembroke Pines Police Department, Plantation Police Department, Port St. Lucie Police Department, and the West Palm Beach Police Department.
For more information about the U.S. Marshals Service, visit http://www.usmarshals.gov