04/28/2006

Feds and local police arrest 164 suspected fugitives in Calif.

Copyright 2006 The Chronicle Publishing Co.
All Rights Reserved

By BOB EGELKO
The San Francisco Chronicle

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — Federal marshals joined local police to arrest 164 fugitives last week in the Bay Area and coastal Northern California counties, part of a weeklong roundup of wanted criminals in 26 states, the U.S. Marshals Service announced Thursday.

The project, called Operation Falcon II, was part of the Justice Department's National Crime Victims' Rights Week, the Marshals Service said. A similar operation was run last year.

This year's sweep netted 9,037 arrests — nearly six times the weekly average listed on the agency's Web site — for all 26 states, mostly west of the Mississippi.

Sex offenders, one of the prime targets of the operation, accounted for 23 of the Northern California arrests, Deputy Marshal Robert Tejada, head of the local task force, said at a news conference. He said six were arrested on warrants charging rape or other sexual assaults, and the other 17 were held for violating registration laws, which require convicted sex criminals to report to local police once a year and whenever they change addresses.

Failure to register as a sex offender is a felony that can result in a three-strikes sentence of 25 years to life in prison if the defendant has two previous convictions for serious or violent felonies.

Tejada said many of those arrested on that charge last week had serious criminal records. One example cited at the news conference was Joseph Kaseem Roy, 46, who was arrested in San Francisco and had been convicted of five counts of child molesting in San Mateo County.

The arrests also included 17 for assault or kidnapping, 14 for robbery, 44 for drugs, 35 for burglary or vehicle theft, 12 for crimes involving guns, and the other 19 for miscellaneous crimes, the Marshals Service said. Tejada said the 164 total was more than usual for a week, but an exact comparison was impossible because 27 federal, state and local agencies were involved.

In one case, marshals assisted in the arrest of four men accused of robbing a gun shop in Rio Dell, near Eureka, and in the recovery of all 51 of the stolen guns, the agency said.

Falcon II, short for Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally, placed deputy marshals alongside local police to catch suspects who have avoided arrest because of staffing shortages and other reasons, Tejada said.

"We would love to do this all the time, but every agency is short of personnel, including our own," he said. The Marshals Service's primary assignment is court security, which was maintained at normal levels during the week despite the concentration on arresting fugitives, said Chief Deputy Marshal Tom Figmik.

Marshals also responded to requests from other states. In one case, Jack Duffy, 55, who walked away from a Michigan prison in September 1982 while serving a sentence of seven to 15 years for burglary, was traced by Michigan authorities to the Bay Area community of Dublin, where he was picked up by federal officers last week, the Marshals Service said.

Another fugitive, Terreal Kirk, 55, was arrested in East Palo Alto on a warrant from St. Louis, where he is charged with arson and burglary and has previous convictions for arson and drug crimes, officers said.

As part of the operation, San Francisco police reported arresting 78 offenders on warrants, including 10 for failing to register as sex offenders, 17 on drug crimes and 29 for parole violations. Tejada said San Francisco and Richmond were the main areas of the roundup.

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