Ga.: Police sweep nets 520 fugitives

By Rhonda Cook, Staff
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

At first, the fugitive on the front porch of a seedy bar and grill on Moreland probably pegged the occupants of three cars pulling into the parking lot as just a group of guys meeting for a beer.

But when six men got out wearing bullet-proof vests and jackets with letters identifying their different law enforcement agencies, Demario Allison took off running.

Allison, wanted for kidnapping and aggravated assault, was among 520 fugitives in North Georgia rounded up recently on charges relating to gang activity, sex crimes and other violence.

Allison bolted inside the Driftwood Bar and Grill but was caught by other officers at the back door. He was one of more than 10,000 fugitives arrested in recent days during a coordinated effort to round up fugitive felons in states east of the Mississippi River.

Another 142 fugitives were picked up last week in Middle Georgia by agencies participating in the third sweep since last year by Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally, or FALCON. The most recent effort, code named Operation FALCON III, also bagged 352 fugitives in South Georgia, according to U.S. Marshal Richard Mecum in Atlanta.

In total, authorities said they arrested 10,773 fugitives in the eastern half of the United States between Monday morning last week and noon this past Saturday; 1,014 of them in Georgia. Federal officials made the announcement at news conferences in Washington, Atlanta and other cities Thursday.

"You go out after the worst of the worst. It's putting a concentrated effort to get a lot of these people off the streets," Mecum said Thursday.

Last Wednesday at dusk, U.S. Marshals Service Inspector James Ergas was in one of the cars that pulled into the parking lot of the bar and grill on Moreland.

Ergas said officers spotted Allison on the establishment's front porch with another man. They appeared to be enjoying a marijuana cigarette, he said.

According to Lt. Johnny Dalton in the fugitive unit of the Atlanta Police Department, Allison was wanted on charges of kidnapping two women, one an ex-girlfriend in Atlanta on Sept. 12 and the other a woman in East Point last July.

Later in the week, as the number of arrests increased, another fugitive was arrested at a College Park apartment. Marlin Johnson was wanted for shooting another man in the head during a fight at a Carroll County bar, the Blue Dolphin Club. Ergas said.

When law enforcement officers came to his door Friday afternoon, Johnson tried to escape by jumping off a second-story balcony. However, agents were waiting for him there, too.

Johnson was carrying a pistol of the same caliber used in the Carrollton bar shooting but ballistics tests have not been completed, authorities said.

A Florida fugitive, Youwus Vilpre, 24, was shot and killed at a Lilburn apartment complex Oct. 25 when he tried to escape federal marshals who opened fire when Vilpre refused to put down what they thought was a weapon. It was a shoe.

Keith Booker, acting commander of federal Southern Regional Federal Task Force, said the emphasis of the unit is to find "violent offenders, people wanted for aggravated assault, robbery, child molestation and homicide."

Copyright 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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