Dozens of law enforcement agents zeroed in on fugitives hiding out in the Las Vegas Valley with the hope that their five-day sting operation would send a message: Not everybody's missteps remain secret in Sin City.
"Last week, Las Vegas was not a good time for gang members and sex offenders hiding in the Las Vegas area," Acting U.S. Attorney Steve Myhre said Tuesday. "The message for fugitives who believe Las Vegas is a nice place to settle down is: We'll be looking for you."
Sixty members of a multi-agency task force looked for 1,300 criminals on the loose. The law enforcement agencies shared information gleaned from their own investigations and searched the valley for the fugitives. They reined in 201, about 5 percent to 8 percent of which were out-of-towners trying to hide in Las Vegas.
"Could we have arrested more people? Sure, if we had more time and resources," said Fidencio Rivera, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal. Rivera stood on a stage at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse on Tuesday, flanked by representatives of about 15 federal and local agencies. He explained that the sting operation, dubbed FALCON (an acronym for "federal and local cops organized nationally") arrested 17 sex offenders.
The task force members also took 27 documented gang members into custody, cleared three homicide warrants, cleared 55 drug-related warrants and seized 11 firearms. They confiscated $7,053 in cash.
"The agencies, local and federal, share one mission: to make the community safe," Las Vegas police Capt. Albert Salinas said.
Taken off the streets during the sweep was Raul Avitia Jacques, a 40-year-old who authorities allege shot his mother-in-law in Sinaloa, Mexico, in 2005. Also nabbed were Curtis Mark Gebers Jr., 28, who was wanted on an attempted homicide warrant in connection with the severe beating of his wife in Henderson, and Jarmaine Doubs, a Fresno, Calif., resident wanted for attempted homicide in the torture of a woman who was burned with cigarettes for 24 hours before being stuffed in the trunk of a car in Doubs' hometown.
Task force commander Patrick Sedoti, a deputy with the U.S. Marshal's office, said it is unknown when another sweep might take place because the program is costly. But he said the government agencies were pleased with the results from the program that took place between Aug. 20 and Aug. 24
"It will have a significant impact on the community, for how long, I don't know," Sedoti said.