433 fugitives caught in state
Sex offenders, gang members held in sweep
Authorities knocked on the door of a Dorchester home last week. The suspect was not there, but 47 arrests were made in Boston in the sweep. (Globe Staff Photo / George Rizer)
Deputy US marshals, federal agents, and local police tracked down and captured 433 fugitives in Massachusetts last week, targeting sex offenders, gang members, and other violent criminals.
In the third and largest multistate sweep of its kind, deputy marshals teamed up with more than a thousand other law enforcement agencies to arrest 10,773 fugitives in 24 states east of the Mississippi River between Oct. 22 and 28, according to the US Marshals Service and the Department of Justice. Officials dubbed the sweep Operation Falcon III.
In Massachusetts, 67 of those arrested were convicted sex offenders, including 30 who were not registered as required by law, and 73 were reputed gang members.
"The results are staggering," said Acting US Marshal William Fallon, adding that 241 deputy marshals, federal agents, and police fanned out to make arrests in cities and towns from Boston to Springfield and in communities as far north as Lawrence and as far south as New Bedford and Plymouth.
At a Washington press conference, US Attorney General Alberto R . Gonzales called those arrested the "worst of the worst" criminals on the run.
In Massachusetts, Caonabo Reyes, 23, a convicted sex offender who was wanted in New Hampshire for violating his probation, was walking with his 2-year-old daughter outside a Lawrence apartment building when a team came looking for him on Oct. 24.
"He saw us and bolted inside," said Deputy Marshal Scott Kimball. "He left his 2-year-old standing on the sidewalk."
Thirty minutes after he was spotted, Reyes was found around 7:30 a.m. hiding in the basement of his apartment building, wedged between two mattresses on the floor, Kimball said.
Acting Boston Police Commissioner Albert E. Goslin called the cooperation among agencies unprecedented and impressive. He said that 47 arrests were made in Boston during the weeklong sweep and that another 26 who were wanted in Boston were arrested elsewhere.
"We did try to target as many gang members and sex offenders as possible," Fallon said.
As part of the multistate initiative, the US marshals sent letters to local police departments in September offering to help track and arrest their most violent fugitives, all of whom had outstanding warrants for their arrest, Fallon said.
In the weeks leading up to the roundup, they tracked down addresses and worked to develop leads.
All those arrested face state charges, but federal prosecutors are reviewing the cases to determine whether any suspects will be prosecuted in federal court under the recently enacted Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which makes it a federal felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to fail to register as a sex offender and travel out of state. The law was named after the 6-year-old who was murdered in 1981 after being kidnapped from a Florida shopping mall.
During a press conference announcing the arrests yesterday, First Assistant US Attorney Michael K. Loucks said, "Protecting the most innocent among us is more important than anything else we do."
Brian Berlo, 42, who had been wanted in New Hampshire since July on charges that he repeatedly sodomized a 14-year-old boy after plying him with alcohol and marijuana, was captured on Oct. 26 in Easton.
Berlo, who was working at Edwards Moving Co., was stunned when a team of deputy marshals and police surrounded him in the company parking lot, according to Deputy Marshal Kevin Roche, and asked them, "How . . . did you find me?"
That same day, another team tracked down a reputed gang member from El Salvador who was wanted on charges of attempted murder involving two New Bedford police officers. Luis Gonzalez, 21, who allegedly used a vehicle to run over the officers in the parking lot of a nightclub earlier that morning, was arrested in Bourne, according to the US marshals. Three men who were with him were turned over to immigration authorities.
Also that day, David Gatrey, 23, a reputed gang member who was wanted on charges that he induced a minor to engage in prostitution, was arrested by a Boston police team on Maywood Street in Dorchester after a brief struggle, according to the marshals.
After an unsuccessful search at a home on Ashmont Street in Dorchester for Philip Alfieri, a convicted sex offender who had failed to register, Boston police and deputy marshals tracked him to a Somerville apartment and found the 47-year-old hiding in the cabinets under the kitchen sink, according to Supervisory Deputy US Marshal Jeffrey L. Bohn.
"A lot of sex offenders are transient, always moving around a lot," said Bohn, adding that gang members are also trying to elude authorities, making both groups a challenge to track.
Not all of those arrested were on the list of targeted fugitives. In some cases, it was a combination of luck, timing, and alert police work.
Boston police Sergeant Brian Albert of the Youth Violence Strike Force said he was working with a team of plainclothes officers and deputy marshals in the Theater District when they questioned a man and discovered that he was an unregistered Level 3 sex offender.
The man -- Fitzhugh Newton, 47, of Roxbury -- had a long history of criminal convictions that include kidnapping, stalking, assault with intent to rape, and violating a restraining order. He was arrested for not registering as a sex offender.
"It just goes to show you can go to several houses and not find someone, but if you're out there on the streets, working, sometimes luck comes into it," Albert said.
In the case of Michael Demarsh, according to Roche, "The deputies stopped to get a coffee and he walked by the shop."
A Brockton police officer working with the marshals recognized Demarsh, 42, who was wanted for federal and state probation violations, and arrested him. Demarsh was carrying 133 grams of cocaine, the marshals said.
In Washington, D.C., authorities highlighted the arrest of an unregistered sex offender who was baby-sitting several children when he was arrested.
Joe Ciccarelli, supervisor of the US Marshals fugitive task force in New York's northern district, said marshals grabbed one fugitive while he was in the shower.
Also arrested in the dragnet were Demetrius Avery Jackson, an accused police killer in Birmingham, Ala., and Eric Dewayne Meneese, a Crips gang member in Nashville.
During Falcon I, held in April 2005, 10,340 fugitives were arrested nationwide, including 285 in Massachusetts.
In Falcon II, conducted this April, 9,037 fugitives were arrested in a sweep in 27 states that focused on areas west of the Mississippi and did not include Massachusetts.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.