Operation FALCON nabs almost 2,000 fugitives in Ga.

"We're looking for the high-risk individuals," said U.S. Marshal Richard Mecum on Thursday.

Mecum's agency supervised the annual local, state and federal Operation FALCON — Federal and Local Cops Organized — in North Georgia in the month of June. "We asked them [state and local agencies] for their worst cases."

Sex offenders were the primary targets.

Nationwide, 2,356 sex offenders were caught. In all of Georgia 67 fugitives suspected in sex crimes were arrested and another 24 convicted sex offenders were taken into custody because they had not registered with sheriffs.

The Marshals Service said 900 gang members were picked up nationwide, and 433 suspected murderers were captured, including 23 in Georgia.

Most of the arrests in Georgia were in counties around the state's larger cities — Atlanta, Macon and Savannah. But still there were some made in rural areas such as Polk, Gordon, Lamar, Pulaski and Emanuel counties.

There were 1,927 arrests statewide. Of those, 1,195 arrests were made in the Atlanta area.

"Our mission is to take the most violent felony fugitives off the streets," said James Ergas, supervisory inspector of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Some of those picked up committed more crimes while they were loose, Mecum said.

For example, Gavin Murray was released from Sing Sing New York Prison after completing a sentence on weapons charges even though he was wanted for violating parole and on escape and murder charges. Law enforcement say he committed other crimes as he made his way to Atlanta. Murray, believed to be an enforcer for the 5 percent gang that operates in the Bronx, has four murder indictments pending against him and he is suspected in other homicides. Murray, 36, was found last month sitting inside a car at a Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport parking garage.

More examples of those caught up in the sweep:

— Gregory Dewayne Miller, 36, who was wanted on charges he murdered Melissa Rushing last August. The 39-year-old woman was beaten and smothered with a plastic bag. Her hands, feet and neck were bound and her charred body was found in Bond Swamp in Bibb County.

— Alajandro Gusman, who was wanted in Gwinnett County on charges he kidnapped his young daughter on June 10. Police said Gusman, 29, refused to return 4-year-old Ingrid to her mother and threatened to kill the child. Gusman was arrested in Operation FALCON in Maryland on June 11.

— Derrick Wilson, who escaped last July from a federal prison in Pennsylvania where he was sentenced for distributing drugs, money laundering and possession of a firearm. Marshals found Wilson, 40, in a Smyrna gas station parking lot last week.

This year's was the fifth Operation FALCON, which involves several intensive weeks, with many of the officers deployed for the sweep last month working 24-hour plus work days. This period is set aside for a nationwide search because of the demands on departments and on the people assigned to the operation is intense and difficult to sustain for very long, Mecum said.

Officers from 110 federal, state, county and city agencies were assigned to teams in Georgia and they would flood specific areas looking for certain fugitives.

Videos and photographs can be viewed at http://www.usmarshals.gov/falcon09/index.html

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