Operation nets 1,700 arrests in N.C.
Posted July 9, 2009 2:31 p.m. EDT
Updated July 9, 2009 6:35 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — More than 1,700 arrests were made in central and eastern North Carolina in June as part of a nationwide effort targeting fugitives and sex offenders, the U.S. Marshals Service announced Thursday.
Operation FALCON (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally) led to 541 arrests in the federal court system’s Middle District of North Carolina, which includes Orange and Durham counties. The arrests included 14 sex offenders and 17 gang members, and 1,045 warrants were served during the operation.
“The goal of Operation FALCON is simple – to make communities safer,” John F. Clark, director of the U.S. Marshals Service, said in a release. “Each time we wrap up a FALCON operation in any location, there are less dangerous individuals – and fewer threats to the community – than before we arrived there. That is very gratifying.”
The Durham County Sheriff's Office served 812 warrants for arrest, orders for arrest and criminal summons during the month of June, police spokesman Officer Jason Evans said.
“It minimizes the violence and it brings forth a better quality of life,” Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said of the operation.
Information from the operation also led to the arrest of Charles E. Johnson, 30, who is charged with seven counts of second-degree kidnapping, four counts each of robbery with a dangerous weapon and breaking-and-entering, and one count each of first-degree sexual offense, larceny and possession of a stolen firearm.
In the past, Durham County was looking at a backlog of more than 60,000 unserved arrest warrants. They even established a central office in an effort to bring that number down.
Officials said having extra officers during the task force helped them serve an extra 500 warrants.
In the city of Durham, 240 arrests were made and about 500 warrants were served, Durham Police Department spokesman Officer Jason Evans said.
Among the arrests in the Middle District was Christopher Ezekiel, who was wanted by the High Point Police Department and the sheriff’s offices in Guilford and Davidson counties for outstanding warrants for charges ranging from distribution of cocaine to armed robbery.
Ezekiel, a suspected gang member, was arrested on June 16. At the scene, High Point police arrested three other people who are charged with drug-related offenses.
Federal, state and local law enforcement in the federal system’s Eastern District of North Carolina, which includes Wake and Cumberland counties, made 1,196 arrests over the course of the 30-day operation. Among the arrests were 22 sex offenders, including three unregistered sex offenders.
U.S. Marshals and local partners arrested Danny Murchison, 41, in Fayetteville on June 18. Murchison is accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl. He faces 45 charges, including 15 counts each of first-degree rape of a child and taking indecent liberties with a child.
The operation also cleared 1,805 warrants in the Eastern District.
Nationally, 35,190 fugitives were captured as part of Operation FALCON.
Since Operation FALCON was created in 2005, it has helped net 91,086 arrests and cleared 117,874 warrants. Officials said it is the largest and most successful fugitive apprehension effort in U.S. Marshals history.