Marshals seize 38 fugitives in Baltimore sweep 'Gunsmoke II' captures 1,078 nationwide

November 25, 1992|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

Thirty-eight fugitives charged with serious sex offenses were captured in the Baltimore area in a recent six-week operation by the U.S. Marshals Service, federal authorities said yesterday.

Nationwide, the operation -- dubbed "Gunsmoke II" -- hauled in 1,078 fugitives in 19 metropolitan areas. More than 70 percent of those arrested were charged with sex offenses.

But the marshals service -- the federal government's primary fugitive-hunting law enforcement agency -- estimated that there were still about 99,000 fugitives wanted throughout the country for sex offenses and other serious crimes.

"We started Operation Gunsmoke II with a list of 100,000 warrants nationwide for violent fugitives," said U.S. Marshal Scott A. Sewell, who heads the Baltimore field office. "They're out on the streets right now. There's still a lot of work that needs to be done."

Deputy U.S. Attorney General George J. Terwilliger III said at a news conference in Arlington, Va., yesterday that, while law enforcement is primarily a job for local police agencies, big backlogs of fugitive warrants are inevitable. Operations such as Gunsmoke II enable officials to concentrate federal resources where they can do the most good, he said.

Marshal Sewell said police departments in cities hard-hit by crime don't have the manpower to keep up with thousands of arrest warrants each year. "They just can't keep up with them. In Baltimore City alone, they have just about a homicide a day," he said.

Marshals began working with local law enforcement personnel Oct. 13 on the rounding up of wanted sex offenders. Most of the Baltimore-area fugitives were located within the city, authorities said.

"We were looking for child molesters, or someone who committed a sex offense with a gun," Marshal Sewell said.

"People who commit sex crimes are often repeat offenders. They tend to commit the same crime again," he said. "Our aim was to take them off the streets."

Among those arrested in the Baltimore area:

* A Northwest Baltimore man wanted for allegedly raping his 15-year-old daughter and impregnating her. He was found Oct. 26 at the scene of a carjacking on Liberty Heights Avenue, where he and a gang of revelers were watching a man about to hijack a car, federal officials said.

The suspect was charged with first-degree rape. The girl was raped in June after visiting him at his home, the marshals service said. The suspect had recently separated from the victim's mother, authorities said.

* Everett Barnes, arrested in Baltimore on charges of attacking and repeatedly raping his ex-girlfriend in July. Marshals found him asleep at his home early one morning.

* An Annapolis man who violated his probation on 1989 charges of sexually abusing family members. The man's 18-year-old niece charged that her uncle had sexually abused her when she was 8 and then ordered her not to tell anyone. After she came forward with the allegations, two other female relatives accused the man of similar incidents, marshals said.

The man was located after marshals canvassed his Annapolis neighborhood and obtained information from neighbors, authorities said.

In the nationwide sweep, those arrested included 116 people charged with rape, 538 accused of aggravated sexual assault and 120 charged with sex crimes against children. Others were wanted on serious criminal charges that included kidnapping, arson and murder.

Gunsmoke II was named after an earlier one in the spring, Gunsmoke I. In that operation, federal marshals helped round up more than 3,000 fugitives accused of violent crimes in more than 40 cities over a 10-week period.

In the latest operation, some 200 law enforcement officers participated, including 100 deputy U.S. marshals.

The areas covered were Baltimore; Washington and its Virginia suburbs; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Oklahoma City; Houston and El Paso, Texas; Atlanta; Boston; Columbia, S.C.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; San Francisco; Sacramento, Calif.; St. Louis; Tallahassee and Tampa, Fla.; and Wichita, Kan.

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