Ninety people convicted of sex crimes who evaded their court-ordered requirement to register as a sex offender have been located and 26 have been re-arrested as a result of a recent coordinated operation by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service and Phoenix Police. The two-month effort culminated on October 31 in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals’ annual compliance check of registered sex offenders known as “Operation Safe Treat.” Investigators from the three agencies targeted every known sex offender convicted in Maricopa County who failed to register in Arizona or after relocating to another state. Their underlying offenses date back as far as 1999 and include molestation, sex assault, sexual conduct with a minor, child prostitution and child pornography.
“These are potentially dangerous sexual predators who tried to blend into the community and escape the consequences of their criminal behavior,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Thanks to the cooperation and hard work of our law enforcement partners, we are bringing these offenders out of the shadows and denying them the opportunity to victimize others.”
“Our partnership with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in this effort has truly demonstrated our commitment to protect the community from these dangerous offenders,” said United States Marshal David Gonzales. “Although the Halloween season brings extra attention to these individuals, the U.S. Marshals Service and fellow law enforcement partners remain committed to this mission year round.”
Prosecutors identified a total of 191 defendants with outstanding warrants for failing to register as a sex offender, a class 4 felony. Investigators with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office tracked down the location of offenders with assistance provided by the Adam Walsh Foundation. Members of the Phoenix Police Department’s Fugitive Apprehension and Investigation Detail (FAID) arrested offenders who were located in Phoenix area while U.S. Marshals arrested offenders living elsewhere in Arizona as well as those located out of state who will be extradited to Arizona for prosecution. Efforts to locate remaining defendants are ongoing.
Unregistered offenders were located living in a variety of circumstances. Some were found living near schools. Others attempted to conceal their whereabouts by working for cash as contractors which allowed them access to people’s homes. Two were located in homeless shelters. Eight were confirmed deceased and at least one offender had attempted to fake his own death. Several offenders were in the U.S. without lawful authority and are believed to have left the country. All but three of those identified are males.
“We will be seeking restitution from these defendants to cover the costs associated with locating them and bringing them to justice,” said Montgomery. “To those we haven’t been able to track down yet, let me be clear: we know who you are and we will find you. Turn yourself in now and comply with your requirement to register, otherwise you will face more severe penalties.”
The Arizona Sex Offender Registry can be found here: http://www.azdps.gov/services/sex_offender/