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Joint law enforcement effort nets 251 for outstanding warrants

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PHOENIX – In conjunction with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a collaboration among state, federal and local agencies brought in 251 fugitives in four days.

David Gonzales, Arizona U.S. marshal, said Operation Justice IV is just one way law enforcement is working to clear outstanding warrants in the state and Maricopa County in particular.

“We’re all diligent about trying to narrow it down and reduce the number of warrants in the county, to make this a safer community,” he said.

Outstanding warrants have been reduced from about 38,000 in July of 2009 to about 30,000 today, according to the U.S. Marshal’s Service in Arizona.

In the latest operation, more than 100 law enforcement officers from 30 agencies throughout Maricopa and Pinal counties cleared 325 warrants. The fugitives were wanted for crimes including assault, aggravated DUI, burglary, kidnapping, fraud, theft, weapons offenses, theft and various drug offenses.

“Two hundred and fifty were responsible for thousands of crimes,” Gonzales said. “We feel we prevented thousands of crimes.”

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said that officers in the county averaged 45 arrests per day during the operation thanks to cooperation among offices and jurisdictions.

“The success of this operation cannot be underscored enough,” he said.

Agencies have worked together on operations similar to this before. Tracy Montgomery, assistant chief of the Phoenix Police Department, said that it doesn’t always take big events to team up.

“Some of the smaller crime situations that we face here in law enforcement, as a whole, we address collaboratively,” she said. “Our efforts over the last week really are exemplary of how we operate throughout the year, communicating and bringing fugitives to justice.”

There will be more operations to round up thos with outstanding warrants, said Matthew Allen, special agent in charge of investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Phoenix.

“We want them to remain uncomfortable about being fugitives from justice and fugitives from the law,” he said. “We want them to be looking over their shoulders every day, hopefully hearing the pitter-patter of the feet of law enforcement officers coming after them.”