WASHINGTON – The
U.S. Marshals Service, partnering with federal,
state and local law enforcement, arrested 35,190
fugitives and cleared 47,418 warrants as part
of Operation FALCON 2009 (Federal and Local Cops
Organized Nationally), U.S. Marshals Service
Director John F. Clark announced today.
Ranging from coast to
coast, Operation FALCON 2009 brought together the
resources of 42 federal agencies, 209
state agencies and 1,973 local sheriffs’ and
police departments, to again make the program a huge
Since its inception in 2005, Operation FALCON has
made 91,086 arrests and cleared 117,874
warrants and is the single most successful
initiative aimed at apprehending violent fugitives
in U.S. law enforcement history.
In Operation FALCON
2009, as in prior operations, an emphasis was placed
on the capture of violent offenders, gang members
and sex offenders. Nationwide, the operation
arrested 433 persons wanted for murder,
900 gang members and 2,356 sex offenders.
Among those brought in:
Willie Conway, a
convicted sexual predator and a member of the Vice
Lords street gang, was wanted in Kankakee County,
Ill., for criminal sexual child fondling. His victim
was a nine-year-old girl. During the morning of
June 18, FALCON team members from the Great Lakes
Regional Fugitive Task Force, based in Chicago,
joined by deputies from the Cook County Sheriff’s
Department, established surveillance at a residence
in Chicago where they believed Conway was residing.
Conway was arrested without incident and now may
face additional charges for failure to register as a
Fontana was taken into custody June 5. Fontana was
wanted in Santa Rosa County, Fla., for rape of a
minor, 25 counts of sexual molestation, child
pornography, and lewd and lascivious acts. A
registered sex offender in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.,
Fontana relocated to Santa Rosa County in 2001,
assumed a new identity and allegedly continued to
commit sex crimes against minors. He later fled and
was believed to be in South America. Following an
extensive investigation by the FALCON team members
in the United States and deputies assigned to USMS
Dominican Republic Foreign Field Office, Fontana was
located in Cabrera, Dominican Republic. He was
arrested by agents from the Dirección Nacional de
Control de Drogas Fugitive Unit, and will be
returned to the United States to face the charges
pending against him.
Director John Clark has overseen five of the six
FALCON operations since becoming head of the agency
in March 2006. “I continue to be impressed with the
remarkable results that can be achieved when all of
law enforcement comes together,” Clark said. “What
began five years ago as a promising concept has
become the most effective fugitive apprehension
effort in the long history of the U.S. Marshals.
“More importantly, by
taking large numbers of violent fugitives off the
street, we put an immediate end to their unlawful
activities. This is significant, since many of these
criminals have a long history of violence and abuse.
Our actions have spared families, friends and entire
communities the anguish of becoming victims at the
hands of these repeat offenders,” Clark said.
In addition to the
numerous murderers, gang members and sex offenders
apprehended during Operation FALCON 2009, 1,677
persons were apprehended on weapons charges and
10,525 were arrested on narcotics charges.
Authorities also seized more than $342,179 in
U.S. currency, 582 firearms, 38
vehicles and nearly 2,400 kg of narcotics.
The fugitives arrested during the operation have a
collective history of almost 138,200 prior
The Commander for
this year’s Operation FALCON, Chief Tommy Thompson,
praised the results and said he believes the
operation far exceeded expectations.
“Returning FALCON to
its roots of a nationwide fugitive manhunt
accomplished a feat never before done by the
Marshals – 35,000 wanted felons, many of whom were
impact players for crime in their communities, off
the streets in a mere four weeks,” Thompson said.
“FALCON 2009 shows us that when law enforcement from
all levels joins forces, no fugitive can hide from
justice for long.”
The concept behind
broad, interagency law enforcement operations such
as Operation FALCON evolved largely from smaller,
local and regional task forces. Groups such as these
have historically combined local, state and federal
agencies to find and apprehend area fugitives. The
U.S. Marshals adopted such interagency teamwork in
the early 1980s, when they combined their resources
and expertise in fugitive apprehension with the
local knowledge and unique insight of officers on
the street level. Operation FALCON brought this
concept to an unprecedented, national scale in 2005.
In order to provide
participating agencies with broader jurisdictional
authority, 5,007 federal, state and local law
enforcement officers were sworn in as Special Deputy
U.S. Marshals immediately prior to the start of a
FALCON operation. Throughout the course of the local
operations, this special authority from the U.S.
Marshals empowered all participating law enforcement
officers to cross traditional lines of jurisdiction
to track down and arrest targeted fugitives.
Clark credits this
overwhelming support of law enforcement nationwide
for the continued success of Operation FALCON. “The
Marshals are oftentimes the public face of these
operations, but we have hundreds of agencies and
thousands of dedicated law enforcement officers
behind this effort. It’s a lot of work with many
long hours, but everyone is determined to make it
happen,” he said. “We have cops onboard committed to
tracking down and arresting these violent fugitives.
I thank them for their continued assistance.”
more information on Operation FALCON 2009, including
B-Roll operational footage, visit