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U.S. Marshals Service

Office of Congressional Affairs

Operation Triple Beam

TULSA, Oklahoma – Gangs. In every major American city, the presence of gangs is evident. They take over neighborhoods, recruit new members at an alarming rate, and, in most cases, are the primary source of violence. The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) conducts extensive studies in regards to gang migration and gang violence and has discerned the following:

• From 2000 to 2008, gang members were responsible for at least 8,560 homicides in the United States.
• There are approximately one million gang members who belong to more than 20,000 gangs.
• Gang members are responsible for as much as 80% of crime domestically.

The United States Marshals Service (USMS) recognizes the need to reduce the proliferation of gang members and gang crime and has actively supported the Department of Justice’s priority of fighting gang violence. For many years, the USMS has conducted gang reduction operations such as Operation FALCON, which established a unique cooperative relationship with its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to locate and apprehend the worst violent gang members. In Fiscal Year 2010, USMS leadership identified gangs as a priority within its violent crime reduction strategy, and made a commitment to re-invigorate its gang enforcement efforts. A key element of this program was the appointment of a dedicated national gang coordinator to re-focus the agency’s anti-gang violence efforts.

The timing could not have been better. Tulsa, Oklahoma who was recently listed as the sixth most dangerous cities in the country (Forbes 10/2010) was experiencing one of the most violent summers on record. Since the first of the year, 33 murders and 565 armed robberies had been committed on the city’s streets. Gangs were at war and the Tulsa law enforcement community was in need of help.

Taking note of the unprecedented situation, the USMS-led Northern District of Oklahoma (N/OK) Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF) and the USMS national gang coordinator set out to design a violent crime and anti-gang reduction pilot operation aimed at removing not only violent gang members from the streets, but also the guns and drugs that fuel the violence.

Dubbed Operation Triple Beam, the two-week enforcement initiative employed a systematic and sustained approach specifically focused to reduce violent gang crime. Members of the N/OK VCTF worked closely with the Tulsa Police Department Gang Unit to identify the most violent areas of the city and target the most violent gang members responsible for the majority of crime. The goal of this operation was to not arrest anyone and everyone with a gang tattoo or those wearing gang colors; rather, it was designed to target those gang members who are identified as repeat offenders and are known around Tulsa as the worst of the worst.

At the conclusion of the operation, a post-operation analysis was conducted which determined that the operation was, without question, am unqualified success. However, more impressive and more important to the Tulsa community was the drastic reduction in violent crime that resulted from the operation. Statistics have revealed that, since the operation concluded, homicides in the Tulsa area are down 89%, firearm assaults are down 52%, and robberies down 36%, proving that the right violent gang members were targeted and arrested. In addition to the arrests of 163 of the most dangerous gang members, authorities seized 46 firearms, $15,000 in U.S. currency, and illegal drugs with a street value of more than $16,000, all in a two-week period.

The operation was such a success that it now represents the USMS’s overarching gang enforcement strategy, which aims to join anti-gang resources from federal, state, and local partners, utilizing each agency’s expertise to remove violent gangs, gang members, and their weapons, drugs, and cash from our communities. The USMS is currently working to identify other cities that might benefit from an Operation Triple Beam initiative, with the goal of assisting local law enforcement to reduce violent gang crime in their communities.

Operational Impact Statements

“These numbers are unreal and reflect the effort, planning and teamwork put into this initiative. The numbers are high, but what is even more impressive is the people arrested were the RIGHT targets!!
Thanks for your efforts and the impressive work your crews put in!”

- Mark McCory (Deputy Chief Tulsa Police Department)

“Guys, thanks for all of the hard work you put in. The drop in violence around the city reflects that you were nailing our most violent targets right on the head. This operation has been an outstanding success by any measure. Hats off!”

- Mathew Kirkland (Detective Division Commander)

"The effects of Operation Triple Beam have continued to be felt on the streets of Tulsa nearly two months later. After having multiple gang related shootings and homicides in the months prior to the operation, the City of Tulsa has not had one gang related homicide since Triple Beam was put into action. The Organized Gang Unit has regular contacts with criminal gang members who also speak of the impact the joint agency operation had on their criminal operations.

"As the supervisor of the Organized Gang Unit, I look forward to our continued relationship with the United States Marshal Service, and I am grateful for their partnership with the Tulsa Police Department."

- Sgt. Sean Larkin (Tulsa Police Department Organized Gang Unit Supervisor)

Contact Information

Line for Congressional Staff ONLY: 202-307-9220
Line for the general public: 202-307-9065
Email: is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice