National sting hits Maryland fugitives 126 suspects caught

27 of them face murder charges.

April 30, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer Staff Writer Frank D. Roylance contributed to this story.

A 10-week sting operation resulted in the arrests of 126 criminal suspects in the Baltimore area, including 27 people charged with murder, the U.S. marshal for Maryland announced today.

The manhunt, dubbed "Operation Gunsmoke," was part of a national project that focused on the most violent criminals and suspects involved in illegal drug activity, said Scott A. Sewell, the U.S. marshal for Maryland.

It involved federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, who also rounded up 10 fugitives.

The project resulted in the arrests of 3,313 fugitives nationwide and the seizure of $1.95 million in cash and property in 40 cities, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr said.

Mr. Sewell said arrests in the Baltimore-area operation were carried out without a glitch.

Authorities said one of the murder suspects arrested was James Anthony Grimes, wanted for a 1975 murder and robbery. Mr. Grimes was arrested in Severn April 18 after he tried to obtain a driver's license in his real name.

His age and address were not available.

Also counted among the 126 suspects arrested in the Baltimore-area operation was Calvin Mayo III, 32, charged in the April 10 rape of a Johns Hopkins Hospital medical student. He was arrested April 14 by city police, U.S. Marshals and the city sheriff's department.

"We didn't have any problems," he said. "None of the people arrested were hurt. We arrested 126 people, violent criminals, and not so much as a punch had to be thrown."

The Baltimore area task force included the Baltimore Police Department, the city Sheriff's Department, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the U.S. Marshal Service.

He said deputy marshals were brought in from around the country to Gunsmoke locations and local authorities were deputized to allow them to arrest people outside their normal jurisdictional boundaries.

The marshal said authorities used paid informants to help find suspects and garnered the skills of top fugitive-apprehension officers working for the various law enforcement agencies.

"You put experts in different organizations together and you get the cream of the crop," Mr. Sewell said.

In a statement today, Mr. Barr said the operation yielded more than $4 million worth of guns, drugs and other contraband. Some 730 guns and other weapons -- including revolvers, semiautomatic handguns, sawed-off shotguns and assault rifles -- were seized.

"The key to the success of the project was its ability to focus resources specifically on armed career criminals and drug fugitives, and to marshal a combination of specialized skills and abilities from participating agencies," he said.

The project was designed to complement the Justice Department's "Project Triggerlock," which is an effort to use federal firearm laws to target the most dangerous criminals and seek stiff prison sentences.

Besides Baltimore, Operation Gunsmoke task forces operated in 39 cities, including Detroit, Kansas City, Phoenix, Ariz., New York, Miami, Newark, N.J., Washington, San Diego and Houston.

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