"FALCON" Sweep Makes Predators Prey

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - For the third time in almost four years, the Marshals Service called Operation FALCON, which stands for Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally, has bared its claws to catch fugitives.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd gave you the heads-up at noon.

He's back to answer two questions: why convicted sex offenders and gang members?

And why now?

Many of these guys know computers or departments don't always talk to one another, so they've gotten away with not registering as sex offenders.

But the new Adam Walsh Law makes that failure a 10-year-felony.

And the Marshals' power to specially deputize local law officers means chase no longer stops at the county and state line.

A one-week sweep crossing more than two dozen state borders. Some cases, so coordinated, the feds cameras go along for the ride.

What we don't see, "at least two months prior to this we started contacting agencies and laying the groundwork," says Ron Gibbs from the US Marshals Service.

More than half a dozen East Tennessee agencies, supplying 130 officers specially-deputized, which in turn arrested 284 people, two for homicide, 15 for sex assault and 47 for failing to register as sex offenders.

"We did a lot of knocking on doors," says Gibbs.

Helping catch, who North Carolina considers it's most wanted sexual predator, Wilton Richard Bethel, arrested in Morristown. And James Scott Williams, caught in Sevier County for failing to register as a sex offender after serving almost 11-years for rape.

"You can do a whole lot of computer checks and things you can check out to save you time on the street, but there's nothing like replaces just old fashioned interviewing, just talking to people," says Becky Gamble, from the US Marshals Service Field Team.

"We picked up some people in our own county we were looking for on that kind of warrant." People whom, Anderson County Sheriff says his understaffed department might not have caught as quickly.

"This is a crime that people need to be arrested on, It gave us more manpower outside our department to help on it. And anytime we can receive federal help as far as manpower, we'll gladly accept it," says Sheriff Paul White.

The Marshal Service set aside three-quarters of a million dollars, mostly to cover pay, for the departments who loaned deputies or officers for the week-long sweep.

The numbers, as you've heard, are large, what they don't tell us is how many more falcon would have clawed, given more time and more people.


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