03/09/2007

195 fugitives captured in 5-day sweep in Baltimore

By Annie Linskey
The Baltimore Sun

Local and federal law enforcement authorities arrested 195 suspects during a five-day hunt for Baltimore fugitives, officials announced at a news conference yesterday.

Suspects included people accused of attempted murder, assault, gang members, robbery and drug and sex offenses, said Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

"The message we need to send to violent criminals is this: We know who you are, we know what you've done, and we're going to catch you before you do it again," Rosenstein said.

Officers from 28 different agencies worked together during the sweep - which was coordinated through the U.S. Marshal's office and took place from Feb. 26 through March 2.

Officials said they paid close attention to gang affiliations and gathering gang intelligence during the sweep. They characterized 24 of the arrests as "gang-related." Other arrests included 86 people sought for robbery or assault charges, and six for murder or attempted murder.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm said the suspects were picked from the city's internal "most wanted" lists. "We're going after these men and women who are causing the majority of problems in the city as it relates to violence," Hamm said.

Hamm said the multi-agency effort taught his staff whom they can work with in other counties and states when hunting city fugitives. "We made some good contacts," he said.

Officials spent months preparing for the sweep, and made arrests in Baltimore City, Baltimore and Harford counties and New Jersey.

Roughly 3,000 warrants were executed during the five-day program, and more than 323 cases were closed, officials said.

Hamm said that there are still "thousands" of open warrants in the city, but he could not give an exact number.

"This is by no means a complete victory," Hamm said. "This is a marathon, it is not a sprint."

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