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U.S. Marshals Service

History -  Fugitive Investigative Strike Teams (FIST)

Fugitive Investigations - Creative Stings

FIST VIII - 1985

The United States Marshals Service, 38 Florida law enforcement agencies and 12 foreign countries captured 3,816 fugitives in the eighth FIST operation in 1985. 

Picture of press conference for FIST VIII

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese and former Marshals Service Director Stanley E. Morris conducted a press conference at the Biscayne Bay Marriott in Miami on June 19, 1985. The conference was attended by 27 other officials representing Florida and foreign agencies, as well as approximately 40 national and international news media representatives.

Law enforcement personnel based in Miami, with teams set up in Pompano Beach, Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando, and Jacksonville, nabbed 48 accused or convicted murderers, 20 kidnappers, 61 rapists, 167 robbers and 593 major narcotics traffickers.  Forty-eight weapons were seized, including handguns, shotguns, rifles and machine guns.

The Caribbean command site was located in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, with Marshals Service personnel operating in Antigua, Anguilla, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, CuracadAruba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, and Puerto Rico.

Two hundred eleven foreign, state, local and Marshals Service personnel participated in the roundup which began on April 1, 1985.  The fugitives arrested in this operation had 11,559 prior arrests or convictions, averaging 3.03 per subject.

The total cost of FIST VIII was $3,545,264, or an average of $929 per arrest. This was in keeping with the relatively low cost of past FIST operations.

Special Operrations Group personnel

Special operations group members display weapons and equipment carried in vans when called out to assist on an arrest.  At lower left is a battering ram designed by special operations personnel and at right is the emergency extraction device, "jaws of Life".

Another element of FIST VIII that differed from past operations was the inclusion of the Services' Special Operations Group (SOG) as an operational element at the Miami site. SOG teams were called out over 100 times to handle potential problem arrests, and provided valuable tactical support in situations where suspects were believed to be heavily armed or residences were barricaded.

Arrest of fugitive during FIST operation Arrest of fugitive during FIST operation

Special Operations Group members take custody of fugitive hit man wanted by French authorities.

Sting operations continued in FIST VIII with free prizes and trips luring over 14 fugitives. In Miami, "PuEo Airlines" was set up and letters were sent to fugitives telling them that they had won a free flight, a weekend in the Bahafnas, and $350 in spending money. A ticket counter was set up at Miami International Airport next to the Air Haiti ticket counter to add to the realism of the scam. All but one of the sting fugitives, Marshall Wolfman, were arrested in a limousine after being picked up at their residence for a ride to the airport. Wolfman was arrested when he arrived at the ticket counter to board his "flight".


FIST Operations


Nine FIST operations were conducted between 1981-1986 and were responsible for more than 14,700 arrests.  The fugitives' criminal records included murder, robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking and counterfeiting, among others.

FIST operations took place in Florida, California, the New England states, Washington D.C., Michigan and the Southwest United States

Sting Operations:

Although most of the arrests in FIST Operations were made through good, hard, traditional investigations, the strike teams also devised creative "stings" to trick some of the fugitives: is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justicee