Operation Falcon nabs crooks

By Mark Sherman The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – More than 1,100 people wanted in connection with violent sex crimes were among 9,037 fugitives arrested in a weeklong roundup, top law enforcement officials said yesterday.

The arrests were made as part of “Operation Falcon II,” a 27-state dragnet led by the U.S. Marshals Service and timed to coincide with National Victims Rights Week.

This year’s focus was on sex offenders, a group that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has made a priority in his 15 months at the Justice Department.

The operation “targeted the worst of the worst,” Gonzales said at a news conference at the Justice Department.

During the week of April 17-23, federal, state and local authorities arrested 1,102 people wanted for violent sex crimes or for failing to register as a sex offender after a prior conviction for sexual assault.

It was the largest number ever captured in a single law enforcement operation, the department said.

The arrests were made mainly in states west of the Mississippi River, and also in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.