History - Fugitive Investigative Strike Teams
Fugitive Investigations - Creative Stings
Operation FIST VI
In what former U.S. Marshals Service Director
Stanley E. Morris described as possibly the
largest and most successful fugitive hunt in
recent history", Operation FIST VI (Fugitive Investigative Strike Team)
concluded in mid-March 1984 with extensive media coverage which included
all of the major television networks, weekly news magazines, and
principal newspapers throughout the nation.
The operation culminated a unique effort which concentrated on arresting
fugitives throughout the State of California. The conclusion of the
ten-week operation, which resulted in 2,116 arrests, was announced March
15 in Washington, D.C. by former
Attorney General William French Smith.
the same time, a press conference was being
conducted in Los Angeles, California by
US. Marshals Service Director Stanley E.
Morris and the heads of the California law
enforcement agencies involved in the operation,
including Los Angeles Police Chief
Daryl Gates and Los Angeles County
Sheriff Sherman Block.
This was the second time that a FIST
operation has been conducted on a statewide
basis. Earlier FIST operations in New York
City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles,
Miami and Michigan resulted in 2,023 arrests.
Of those arrested during FIST VI in California, 79 percent had been involved in
crimes of violence or drug offenses, and a
total of 2,689 cases were closed as a result of
the arrests. Director Morris noted that 24
arrests were for murder, 22 for
manslaughter and attempted murder, 39 for
rape, 272 for robbery, 646 for narcotics
charges, 17 for kidnapping/extortion, 394
for burglary and 58 for sex offenses. Others
were arrested on charges of assault, arson,
weapons offenses, theft/fraud, embezzlement
FIST operations were designed by the
U.S. Marshals Service to coordinate law enforcement
resources with state and local
authorities, bringing all available resources
to bear against violent crime and drug trafficking.
Former Director Morris praised the state and municipal law enforcement agencies in
California that comprised half the
120-member FIST group, and expressed
particular appreciation to the following law
enforcement agency heads who played key
roles in this combined effort: the Chiefs of
Police for Los Angeles, San Francisco,
Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, Fresno
and San Diego; the Sheriffs of Los Angeles,
Orange, San Bernardino, Marin,
Sacramento, Sutter, Fresno, Yolo, and San
Diego Counties; the County Marshals from
Sacramento and San Diego; and the Commissioner
of the California Highway Patrol.
During the FIST VI operation, which
began January 5, 1984 the U.S. Marshals Service
established separate command posts in Los
Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco,
Sacramento and Fresno. They were united
by a vast communications and computer
network, and throughout the operation
Deputy U.S. Marshals paired with their
state and municipal law enforcement
counterparts to accomplish their vital mission.
The camaraderie and high degree of
professional motivation exhibited by these
teams greatly enhanced the success of the
As in previous FIST operations, FIST VI
initiated a "scam", this one producing
65 fugitive arrests. The ruse involved creation
of the "FIST Bonded Delivery Service",
which sent notices to fugitives' last known
addresses asking them to arrange for acceptance
of a package worth up to $2,000.
Sixty-five appointments were made by
wanted fugitives for these "packages", only to
find that their uniformed "Delivery Man"
was a Deputy U.S. Marshal and their
package was a pair of handcuffs instead.
One subject was highly irate that the Marshals
were taking him away before he could
claim his "delivery", adding, You don't have
to be so mean!"
The overwhelming success and highly
professional execution of the six FIST operations
can clearly be seen in the 4,139 felons
arrested and 5,273 cases cleared-all
without one subject or law enforcement officer
being wounded or killed.