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Fugitive sweep nets 211

A fugitive sweep that is being called the largest such operation by U.S. Marshals in Nevada nabbed more than 200 criminals wanted on felony charges, representatives with the agency said Wednesday.

Detectives, officers and agents fanned across Nevada to track down violent criminals, sex offenders and drug dealers during the operation dubbed FALCON, or Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally. The sting was performed from June 9 to June 13. Overall, 211 fugitives were arrested statewide, 159 of whom were wanted in Southern Nevada. Most suspects were wanted for burglary and narcotics offenses.

The law enforcement representatives gather for a week each year to perform the sting. This year, 25 agencies ranging from local police departments to the U.S. Secret Service participated. Local agencies that cooperated with the Marshals include the Metropolitan, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City police departments, and the Clark County district attorney’s office.

“Needless to say, this was a bad week for criminals,” said Gary Orton, U.S. Marshal for the district of Nevada.

“Las Vegas continues to be a location where those who have committed crimes in other jurisdictions think they can come and hide,” Orton said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

U.S. Attorney Greg Brower agreed the sting should send a message.

“We will not tolerate our city being seen as a haven for criminals,” he said.

Javier Jimenez, assistant chief deputy for the U.S. Marshal’s district of Nevada, said the FALCON sting began in Southern Nevada in 2005. That year, 67 fugitives were arrested. This was the first year the operation has been conducted statewide, Jimenez said.

Locally, there is also a task force operated by the U.S. Marshals called the Nevada Fugitive Investigative Strike Team, or FIST, Jimenez said. He said FIST also works with local agencies and operates year-round to catch Nevada fugitives, some of whom have fled elsewhere.

FIST was responsible for 1,000 fugitive arrests in 2007, he said.

Like FIST, FALCON has been successful, Jimenez said. He foresees FALCON continuing in the future because it has an immediate effect in communities.

“The majority (of fugitives arrested) are truly violent and career felons,” he said.

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