The U.S. Marshals Service and local police agencies arrested more than 10,000 fugitives last week in an nationwide sweep that ranks as the largest single dragnet in U.S. history, reports the Washington Post. “Operation Falcon,” timed to coincide with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, included the arrests of more than 160 murder suspects, 550 sexual assault suspects, and more than 150 alleged gang members. Experts said that by apprehending thousands of fugitives in a few days, the operation underscored the low priority that law enforcers often give to locating people who have jumped bail, violated parole, or otherwise evaded courts.
“The dirty little secret is that there usually is not enough effort and manpower put into apprehension of fugitives,” said law Prof. David Harris of the University of Toledo. “Most fugitives are aware of this, and it makes the system a joke.” Ninety percent of the cases involved local or state warrants. The Marshals Service, which has added responsibilities as the FBI turns its attention to preventing terrorism, has set up a series of regional task forces focused on arresting fugitives. The dragnet brought in about 1,500 suspects linked to murder, rape, kidnapping, or other serious violent offenses. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said about 70 percent had records of previous arrests.