TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Hundreds of fugitives wanted in Oklahoma, including many sought for violent offenses, are behind bars following a one-week law enforcement sweep involving officers statewide, the U.S. Marshals Service said Thursday.
Operation Falcon II netted more than 1,170 fugitives sought on warrants in felony sex cases, failure to register as sex offenders, assault, robbery and even murder cases in Oklahoma, said Timothy Welch, U.S. marshal for the state's Northern District.
"It's not just going out and arresting a guy," he said. "It's going out and arresting people that are truly, truly bad seeds in the community. The quality of arrest is what the most impressive thing is."
The coordinated sweep among local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies led to 9,038 arrests in the 27 states and two territories that participated, he said. The effort targeted fugitives sought for sexual crimes, crimes against children and the elderly and other violent offenses.
Welch said 477 arrests were made in 11 counties comprising the Northern District, up from about 120 fugitives arrested in Operation Falcon I last year. Only two of this year's arrests were made in federal cases, he said.
Another 506 fugitives were arrested in the Eastern District, including 35 wanted in cases involving violent sexual offenses. The Western District reported 189 fugitive arrests during the operation, which took place from April 17 to April 23.
"In this venture, as in other initiatives, we have stressed that all the badges local, county, state and federal are the same size," said Sheldon J. Sperling, U.S. attorney for the eastern part of the state. "This initiative reflected intergovernmental law enforcement cooperation at its best."
In one case, the search for a released rapist who was wanted for failing to appear for sentencing on probation violations and failing to register as a sex offender led to a Tulsa apartment. Joseph Albert Hodgson was found hiding in a closet with a loaded handgun, Welch said.
A search found an assault rifle, a police scanner programmed with information for Tulsa area law enforcement agencies and a video surveillance system, he said.
Another elusive fugitive wanted on a variety of warrants was found hiding behind a false wall in the kitchen of a residence near Fairland. Authorities said they were able to find him because of the additional personnel and time dedicated to the fugitive sweep.
Northern District U.S. Attorney David O'Meilia said no officers had been hurt in the seven-day manhunt.
"In one week, the citizens and communities in northeast Oklahoma are 477 times safer" because of the operation, he said.
Welch said he would like to see the effort repeated more often but said the costs and strain on local law enforcement agencies can be prohibitive.
Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz said the sting meant an increase of about 100 more inmates in the county jail, but there was plenty of room to hold them.
"It has increased the cost for housing and medical, but we're well within our budget," he said.