1,495 fugitives nabbed in 10-week manhunt Five-city sweep yields 258 in Baltimore-Washington area.

October 24, 1991|By Kelly Gilbert and Robert Hilson Jr. | Kelly Gilbert and Robert Hilson Jr.,Evening Sun Staff

U.S. Marshals Service officials said today they have captured 1,495 fugitives in the 10 weeks of Operation Sunrise, a major manhunt that focused on state and federal criminals in Baltimore-Washington and four other East Coast metropolitan areas.

Scott A. Sewell, U.S. marshal for Maryland, said 258 of the fugitives -- 74 wanted on federal charges and 184 on state charges -- were captured by authorities in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Of those 258 arrests, the offenders had 1,295 combined prior arrests for felony violations, including 47 for homicide and 41 for rape, Sewell said.

Of those arrested locally, 95 percent are still incarcerated awaiting trial, compared with 85 percent of those arrested nationally.

"The violent nature of many of the targets of this operation makes a project like this very dangerous, so it is particularly satisfying to report that no law enforcement official was injured during Operation Sunrise," Sewell said.

The teams also operated in metropolitan Miami, Atlanta, Boston and the New York-New Jersey area.

At a news briefing today, marshals displayed an array of automatic handguns, rifles and machine guns seized during the operation.

K. Michael Moore, marshals service director, said in New York today that the five task forces seized $1.8 million in cash and property, plus guns, drugs and other contraband valued at $538,150.

"The satisfying irony of the project is that these violent offenders and drug criminals helped to pay for their own capture," Moore said.

Operation Sunrise, so dubbed because the task forces routinely staged pre-dawn raids on homes where they sought the fugitives, cost the government $3.37 million, a spokesman said.

Locally, the operation spent about $2,000 per arrest, Sewell said.

The operation targeted fugitive violent criminals and large-scale drug dealers who had evaded arrest or jumped bail and allegedly had continued their criminal activities while they remained at large.

The manhunt got off to a successful start in Baltimore Aug. 12 when task force members nabbed Michael Antonio Lucas, a convicted killer who was wanted on a federal warrant for an escape from a Texas prison. He was on the marshals' 15 Most Wanted List.

Sewell said the fugitives arrested in the Baltimore-Washington area included 23 people charged with or convicted of murder, out of 47 arrested nationally for the crime.

"It should be noted that fugitives pose a special set of challenges for law enforcement authorities," Sewell said. "They often have enough money to buy assistance from those who are willing to help them hide.

"They can obtain false identities and buy vehicles or airline tickets to stay on the move to evade capture. And, they can buy weapons."

Operation Sunrise was the 14th fugitive manhunt conducted by the marshals service in 10 years. It included State Police, Baltimore and Baltimore County police, sheriff's deputies from Baltimore and Prince George's County and the Metro Area Task Force, a special Drug Enforcement Administration unit.

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