Sex offenders and other criminals who have fled to the Virgin Islands to escape arrest may soon have to say goodbye to the freedom that the islands have provided.
The second phase of a 27-state dragnet led by the U.S. Marshals Service that resulted in the arrest of more than 1,100 violent sex criminals last month will include the Virgin Islands, according to Virgin Islands Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Reggie Bradshaw.
The sweep, dubbed Operation Falcon II, was conducted mainly in states west of the Mississippi River, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands and resulted in 9,037 total arrests, according to published reports.
Sex Offender Focus
The focus of this years sweep was sex offenders, individuals who may find a safe haven in the V.I. due to the territorys outdated sex offender registry law, which prevents the public from accessing sex offenders information.
If such fugitives are in fact hiding in the Virgin Islands, they will be arrested during the second phase of Operation Falcon II, according to Bradshaw.
They will be targeting fugitives who are listed in the Virgin Islands, he said. It all depends on the types of information that we have whether or not we will be knocking down doors and doing those things in the Virgin Islands.
The U.S. Marshals partner with local law enforcement for the operation, according to Nikki Credic of the U.S. Marshals Service Office of Public Affairs.
As far as how we find these persons, we do a lot of cooperative operations with federal, state and local officials, said Credic. The information that we gathered during Operation Falcon was based on a lot of state and local warrants.
It could be a situation where someone was charged with a crime but failed to appear in court, and the local police look to the Marshal Service to assist them in finding the persons that they are looking for, Credic added.
Same Criteria as Stateside
Information on wanted criminals is gathered through different sources, said Bradshaw.
We gather information a variety of ways, but I dont want to list all of those ways for it to be published, he said. We will go by the same parameters as any stateside location. Well use the same criteria and the same targets.
If these sources reveal that fugitives are living in the Virgin Islands, they will be arrested, according to Bradshaw.
If we happen to receive information identifying those types of people here, the Virgin Islands will be included in the sweep, he said.
Bradshaw would not reveal the time frame that the second phase will occur.
The second phase of Operation Falcon II will occur in the coming months, according to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as stated a published report.