273 AZ fugitives arrested in 'Operation Justice'

Posted: Updated:
Operation Justice nets arrests. (Source: U.S. Marshals) Operation Justice nets arrests. (Source: U.S. Marshals)

Nearly 300 dangerous criminals are off Phoenix-area streets in the wake of a four-day fugitive round-up.

For days, members of the U.S. Marshals Service, along with other law enforcement agencies, did what they could to get some career criminals off the street.

"A career criminal will run, flee or kill to avoid capture, so the work that these men and women do day in and day out is exemplary," said Mesa police Chief Frank Milstead.

Operation Justice targeted more than 1,000 fugitives wanted for higher level felony crimes, including robbery, rape, dangerous drugs and assault.

All told, 273 arrests were made between April 1 and April 4 out of the more than 30,000 outstanding warrants in Maricopa County. The officers said some of these criminals were the worst of the worst.

"Guns, gangs, drugs and fugitives with outstanding warrants because those are the people that are career criminals that are out committing the crimes," said Phoenix police Assistant Chief Sandra Renteria.

The group concentrated their efforts on those people they knew they could potentially find.

"A lot of warrants exist in our community. A lot of people have warrants that leave our community and we don't want to waste our time going after those," said Glendale police Assistant Chief Rick St. John.

Even though these recent arrests are just a dent to the bigger picture, the officers said they know every single arrest counts.

"We need to keep chipping away and go after those career criminals that terrorize our communities," said David Gonzales of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Among those arrested were:

  • Ronald Clark, booked on charges of robbery, aggravated assault and burglary stemming from a home invasion in which Clark allegedly held a gun to the head of the victim's 2-year-old child, demanding they give Clark access to their valuables.
  • Richard Swenson, booked on charges of dangerous drugs. Swenson was tracked to a home containing three other wanted felons. All of them attempted to flee from officers. All were arrested.
  • James Lane was wanted on charges of rape, kidnapping and dangerous drugs. Additionally, he was sought for questioning in connection with a 1992 "cold case" rape occurring in Glendale, AZ. Lane was arrested at his home without incident.

"There is a disturbing trend in Arizona of the increased use of violence involving fugitives and career criminals," Gonzales said. "The recent tragic deaths and assaults on police officers is a testament to the desperation of fugitives on the run." 

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.