More Than 1,100 Sex Offenders Arrested
WASHINGTON – Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and United States Marshals Service (USMS) Director John F. Clark announced that a seven-day nationwide fugitive roundup led by the USMS and hundreds of partners from state, local and other federal agencies led to the arrests of 9,037 individuals. Among those arrested during Operation FALCON II were 1,102 violent sexual offenders, the largest number ever captured in a single law enforcement effort. Operation FALCON II was conducted April 17-23.
FALCON II (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally) was conducted in 27 states mostly west of the Mississippi River, and the territories of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. High-priority targets for arrest were fugitives wanted for committing sexual offenses and crimes of violence against women, children and the elderly, as well as unregistered convicted sex offenders. Other priority targets were fugitive gang members and violent offenders wanted for homicide, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, carjacking, weapons offenses and major narcotics distribution.
The case of William Wisham is one example of what can go wrong when a community is not aware that a convicted sexual predator is in its midst. Wisham had failed to register as a sex offender when he moved to a motel in Victorville, Calif. On April 21, investigators assigned to Operation FALCON encountered Wisham at the motel during the unrelated arrest of two individuals wanted for child endangerment.
The investigators learned Wisham had violated his requirement to register as a sex offender. Furthermore, he possessed letters to children, notes explaining why he enjoys sex with children, child pornography, candy and methamphetamine. Authorities are working to find and evaluate children listed in Wisham’s diary-style notes. Initial investigations indicated Wisham, using candy as a lure, violated at least one minor child.
For this seven-day nationwide operation, the Marshals coordinated officers from 120 state agencies, 330 county agencies, 312 police departments, six foreign law enforcement agencies, and 24 other federal agencies.
In one of the first arrests during FALCON II, investigators apprehended Herbert Damwijk in Oahu, Hawaii. Damwijk was wanted for two counts of child rape and child molestation against eight-year-old girls.
Authorities in his home state of Washington contacted FALCON II investigators in Seattle for help in finding and capturing Damwijk. Their investigators developed leads that traced the fugitive into Oregon, and later to Hawaii. On April 17, FALCON II investigators in Hawaii arrested Damwijk at his father’s residence in Oahu, Hawaii. He currently awaits extradition back to Washington state.
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