Arizona operation targeting fugitives, gangs nets 343 arrests

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Law enforcement agencies in Arizona have announced that a months-long operation resulted in hundreds of arrests as authorities targeted violent fugitives with ties to criminal street gangs.

The U.S. Marshals Service says "Operation GRIT (Gang Research, Intelligence and Targeting)" conducted by federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement agencies resulted in 343 arrests and the seizures of 55 guns. Drugs were also confiscated.

"This type of operation makes a big difference," said Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia. "It not only lowers our violent crime statistics for our cities, but in fact, it saves lives."

U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales said there's a commitment by the agencies involved to continue the effort.

"Gang-related crime and violence is a critical safety, health and economic issue that extracts a high toll on the general public and our communities," Gonzales said. "It is estimated that there are 1,000 gangs and over 35,000 gang members in Arizona. The vast majority of these gang members are involved in criminal activity."

Among those arrested were Francisco Gonzales, an escaped inmate, and Reyes Holguin, who was wanted in connection with a homicide and the alleged kidnapping of his daughter from the infant's mother.

Gonzales said that of the 343 suspects arrested, 10 were wanted for homicide, 53 for aggravated assault, 12 for robbery, 36 for weapons offenses and 115 for drug offenses.

"We now look forward to the opportunity to hold these defendants accountable and prevent them from causing additional harm to the communities we serve," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement.

Results of the 120-day operation were announced during a news conference Friday in Phoenix. The operation began in early May and ran through early September.