The U.S. Marshals Service arrested more than 8,000 fugitives in a recent nationwide sweep, including more than 250 people wanted in North Texas for a number of violent offenses.
The six-week initiative, called Operation Violence Reduction12, or Operation VR12, resulted in the apprehension of 338 fugitives in North Texas, 262 of whom were specifically targeted in the Operation VR12 initiative.
"These arrests included 16 homicide suspects, 49 sexual-offense criminals, 16 gang members. In addition, 25 firearm seizures and an amount of narcotics were seized," the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement.
The latest news from around North Texas.
The round-up, in it's second year, focuses on the country's most violent and dangerous offenders. Officers focus on fugitives who have had three or more prior felony arrests for crimes such as murder, attempted murder, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, abduction/kidnapping, weapon offenses, sexual assault, child molestation and narcotics.
In the most recent operation investigators increased their focus on fugitives accused of sex crimes and on the recovery of missing children, officials said.
"We applied a strategically focused approach to locate and apprehend the nation's most dangerous fugitives. By removing these violent offenders from the streets, the communities they preyed upon can immediately feel more secure." said U.S. Marshals Service Deputy Director David Harlow. "Operation VR12 was about using our expertise and law enforcement partnerships to significantly impact our communities by focusing on the worst of the worst violent criminals."
The operation was conducted in 94 federal districts but special attention was given to 12 priority locations: Baltimore, Maryland; Brooklyn, New York; Camden, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; Compton; California; Fresno, California; Gary, Indiana; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New Orleans, Louisiana; Oakland, California; Savannah, Georgia and Washington, D.C.
"Between Feb. 1 and March 11, the U.S. Marshals Service used its multi-jurisdictional investigative authority and fugitive task force network to arrest 648 gang members and others wanted on charges including 559 for homicide; and 946 for sexual offenses. In addition, investigators seized 463 firearms, $390,360 in currency, and more than 71 kilograms of illegal narcotics. Also during the operation, investigators recovered 17 children who had been abducted and reported missing," U.S. Marshals said.
Notable arrests in the Northern District of Texas
- Christopher Colbert was wanted by the Dallas Police Department for Homicide and other offenses. Colbert became a suspect after a partially decomposed body was found after a sale of the victim's home in 2015. The NTFTF officially adopted the fugitive case from Dallas Police Department on February 26 and was able to locate Colbert and coordinate his arrest by the U.S. Marshals Task Force in Los Angeles on March 3, 2016.
- Jeri Woods was wanted by the Hobart Police Department (Indiana) for two counts of Murder, two counts of Kidnapping and other charges. It is reported that Woods and other co-defendants kidnapped two young males in June 2015 over a neighborhood feud and took them to a heavily wooded area in Hobart, Indiana. It is alleged that Woods brandished a handgun and shot the two victims as they were forced to kneel facing each other. The fugitive investigation by the U.S. Marshals in Indiana, working alongside the Hobart Police Department, developed information and requested assistance from the NTFTF. On February 29, 2016 the NTFTF continued the fugitive investigation and arrested Woods in Dallas.
- Diewon Cyphers was wanted by the Lubbock Police Department for Aggravated Robbery and allegedly shot a man in the leg. Lubbock Police Department requested the assistance of the NTFTF and three days later the suspect was located and arrested. During the encounter another subject who possessed crack cocaine was arrested. During the search warrant of the arrest location, three handguns and an assault rifle were recovered and additional prosecution of the two men for the seizures is pending.
The North Texas Fugitive Task Force (NTFTF), led by the U.S. Marshals Service, is comprised of Arlington police, Dallas police, the Dallas County District Attorney's office, the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, DHS-ICE, FBI, Fort Worth police, Grand Prairie police, the Hood County Sheriff's Office, Lubbock police, the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office, Mesquite police, the Parker County Sheriff's Office, the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office, the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Attorney General and Weatherford police.
The NTFTF requested and was provided additional assistance for Operation VR12 by the ATF, Cleburne police and the Johnson County Sheriff's Office.