Operation FALCON Nets Guns, Drugs And Fugitives

SPOKANE — Federal agents arrested close to 100 wanted fugitives in Eastern Washington this week. It was part of Operation FALCON, a week long sting that targets wanted violent criminals and sex offenders.

Operation FALCON (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally) is a joint, nationwide initiative that’s been executed five times in Eastern Washington. Personnel from a number of different agencies – deputies, marshals, DOC, police and others – team up with “the goal of removing as many violent offenders from our streets and communities as possible while clearing backlogged warrants from law enforcement files,” according to a press release from the U.S. Marshals Office.

The release claims that Operation FALCON 2008 – carried out from June 16 to June 20 – netted 96 fugitives wanted on a number of warrants including violent offenders, gang members, narcotics violators and sexual predators.

“The successful partnership has been bad news for criminals for the past four years with community safety and crime reduction as a common goal,” the Marshals Office boasts, “capturing over 36,500 fugitives in the past four years.”

In capturing the nearly 100 suspected felons, the task forces cleared 139 warrants, busted a pair of marijuana grow operations, seized several handguns and rifles and nabbed a handful of sex offenders who had failed to register.

Operation FALCON started started early Monday morning, and for the past five days teams of US Marshals, sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers fanned out across Eastern Washington hunting for and capturing wanted fugitives.

Operation FALCON targeted dangerous and violent offenders like Justin Stevens.

“Justin, don’t make me come in there,” an agent saID at Stevens’ door when they arrived at his home. He’s a Level III sex offender who served nine years in prison for raping a 78-year-old woman at knifepoint.

He’s back in jail, arrested on a warrant for failing to register as a sex offender.

In four days, the sweep not only netted 96 wanted men and women in Eastern Washington, it also took eight guns off the street and busted two marijuana grows, including one that had 72 plants.

“Instead of just talking about we’re all short of manpower, etcetera, etcetera” said U.S. Attorney Jim McDevitt at a Friday morning press conference, “we just get down to it and get the job done and this is the result.”

At the press conference, federal, state and county authorities said teamwork between their agencies is the only way to make a difference, with 40,000 outstanding warrants in Spokane County alone.

“It’s a very small sector of the population that causes crime,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, “and if you take the worst of that off the street, you’re going to decrease your crime level.”

Knezovich says with five percent of the population responsible for 90 percent of the crime, it’s important to catch them when you can.

The Eastern Washington Fugitive Task Force ranks in the top ten for arrests. That’s out of about 100 task forces nationwide.

The Marshals Office release touts Operation FALCON as “the largest and most successful fugitive apprehension effort in the history of the US Marshals Service.” For more information, click here