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Inland Empire Sweep Catches 187 Fugitives

March 06, 2004|Sandra Murillo | Times Staff Writer

A multiagency task force led by the U.S. Marshals Service arrested 187 fugitives from the Inland Empire in the last week, seizing firearms, marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine, officials announced Friday.

Authorities arrested fugitives wanted for drug possession, spousal battery and check forgery, officials said.

"All of these individuals arrested, all 187, needed to be taken off the street," U.S. Marshal Adam Torres said.

Authorities in San Bernardino and Riverside counties asked for assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service in November. They started with 400 arrest warrants and began going through computer and law enforcement databases. Friends and associates of the fugitives were sought to aid officials.

"If we reached 100 [arrests], I thought this would be a successful operation," Torres said. "We surpassed our goal."

According to Torres, more than 50% of the arrests were for narcotics violations. Thirty-nine of those arrested were for violent crimes. All of the fugitives were arrested in the Inland Empire or surrounding counties.

Authorities also were seeking about one dozen fugitives wanted for murder, but none were apprehended during the operation, U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Jimell Griffin said.

The use of U.S. marshals has become more common in growing counties such as San Bernardino and Riverside, where local law enforcement agencies might not have the time or the personnel to conduct investigations alone, Griffin said.

The task force comprised officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the California Department of Corrections, the California Department of Justice, the FBI, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and local police departments.

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