New York – The U.S. Marshals Service has conducted a high-impact fugitive apprehension initiative focusing on the country’s most violent offenders in 10 cities.
This 30-day initiative, called Operation North Star (ONS), resulted in the arrest of 339 violent criminals in New York City. New York City led the nation with the most arrests among all 10 cities.
Operation North Star was concentrated on fugitives, wanted for the most serious, violent, and harmful offenses such as homicide, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault. Operation North Star investigators prioritized the offenses with indicators of firearm use in their crime, and those with a larger number of risk factors for violence.
The cities selected were New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Indianapolis, Memphis, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles, each of which has seen an large increase in recent homicides and shootings.
“The overwhelming success of collaborative law enforcement operations as demonstrated in Operation North Star proves the concept that at the national level, an integrated strategy can be implemented at the local level with the confidence and support of our community,” said Ralph Sozio, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of New York.
Remarking on the operation’s impact on the communities, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of New York Vincent DeMarco said, “The goal of Operation North Star was not only to take violent fugitives off of the streets of New York City but to listen and speak to the community about the United States Marshals Service goals and policies that are used to address violent crime. The results show that we succeeded.”
“This month-long, nationwide operation is a perfect example of how public safety is most definitely a shared responsibility,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “It was about targeted, intelligence-driven crime fighting – and above all else, it was about consequences. If you commit a violent crime in our city, we will find you. We will arrest you. And we will build a case to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. I want to thank the U.S. Marshals Service, the NYPD’s Fugitive Enforcement Division, and all of our law-enforcement partners for this collective effort to bring some of New York City’s most violent criminals to justice.”
Between June 1 and 30, the U.S. Marshals Service used its broad investigative authority and fugitive task force network to arrest these violent offenders.
The violent felony charges include 41 wanted for homicide/attempted murder, 109 for robbery, 84 for aggravated assault and 23 for sexual assault. Through the continued strong partnership with the NYPD, the NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force focused its efforts on violent offenders in the Bronx and northern Manhattan to maximize the impact on violent crime in New York City.
Notable Operation North Star arrests in New York City include:
- On June 8, NY/NJRFTF members arrested Dionte Mitchell, 22, on two counts of homicide, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Mitchell is alleged to have shot and killed two female victims after a dispute at a party.
- On June 9, members of the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Jaden Baskerville, 21, wanted for attempted homicide in connection with a drive-by shooting that resulted in the injury of a 7-year-old girl. Task Force members located Baskerville at a residence in Brooklyn and arrested him without incident.
- On June 12, NY/NJRFTF members arrested Jeffrey Alexander, 24, for attempted murder. Alexander had a dispute with the intended victim but also ended up shooting two innocent bystanders.
- On June 24, NY/NJRFTF members arrested Al Ashraf Khalil, 28, for arson resulting in the death of a Philadelphia firefighter. Khalil was the suspect in a June 18 fire that claimed the life of Lt. Sean Williamson. ATF obtained a warrant after a thorough investigation. A collateral lead request was sent from Philadelphia to NY/NJRFTF and Khalil was taken into custody.
- On June 24, three bodies were recovered inside a house located in South Jamaica Queens. On June 29, NYPD detectives identified one of the victim’s boyfriend Travis Blake, as the suspect who committed the murders and requested NY/NJRFTF assistance in locating and apprehending him. On June 30, task force members developed information Blake was in Bar Harbor, Maine, and sent a lead to the Maine Violent Offender Task Force. MVOTF members located Blake at a restaurant and placed him into custody.
The concept behind interagency law enforcement operations such as Operation North Star evolved largely from regional and district task forces. Since the 1980s, the Marshals Service has combined their resources and expertise with local, state and federal agencies to find and apprehend dangerous fugitives. Operation North Star continued this tradition.