News Release
July 7, 2008
For Information Contact,
Special Agent Ramona Sanchez
Public Information Officer
(602) 664-5725

DEA Phoenix Participates In U.S. Marshals “Operation Falcon”
312 Fugtives Arrested During State Wide Round-Up

JUL 7 -- (Phoenix, AZ) - From June 22 - 27, Federal, State, and Local law enforcement agencies collaborated on “Operation FALCON,” a one week fugitive round-up. Operation FALCON netted State wide law enforcement partners 312 fugitives wanted on 346 warrants throughout Arizona. In addition to arresting these fugitives, 10 firearms were taken off the streets.

“Together with our law enforcement partners we have taken another step to make our neighborhoods safer. DEA is committed to keeping violent criminals off the streets and putting them where they belong—behind bars,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Elizabeth W. Kempshall.

“We are pleased that local law enforcement often looks upon operations such as FALCON as an opportunity to address fugitive apprehension issues in their communities,” said John F. Clark, Director of the U.S. Marshals Service. “In the end, when this operation is over, our local partners are the people who will continue to live and work in the communities that Operation FALCON serves. We are committed to leaving behind a safer community for all of them.”

“One fundamental responsibility of the law enforcement community is to aggressively pursue fugitives who have victimized the citizens of its communities,” said David Gonzales, U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona. “After this week, it should be known throughout the State that law enforcement officials, on every level, are working together to bring all felons to justice.”

“The Arizona Department of Public Safety is proud to have participated in Operation FALCON through the commitment of resources and personnel from the state’s newly formed Violent Criminal Apprehension Team (VCAT), to make Arizona’s streets safer with the arrest of hundreds of dangerous felons,” said Roger Vanderpool, Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Intelligence gathered during FALCON showed that Michael NEELEY, a registered sex offender, was living in a mobile home with a male parole violator, 2 adult females and a 14 month old girl. NEELEY was sentenced, in 1995, to 7 years in prison for molesting a 3 year old girl. NEELEY was arrested by Task Force Officers during Operation FALCON for failing to register as a sex offender.

Juan Figueroa MIRANDA a registered prison gang member and bank robber was arrested for supervised release violations. In 1994 MIRANDA was sentenced to 15 years in prison for armed bank robbery and a period of supervised release to follow his release from incarceration. Since being released form prison and while on supervised release, evidence showed that MIRANDA was using codeine, cocaine, and marijuana. Task Force Officers gained intelligence that MIRANDA was living at motel along I-10. Officers observed MIRANDA’s vehicle in the motel parking lot and the motel manager confirmed that the fugitive was staying in one of the rooms with an adult female. MIRANDA was then taken into custody without incident.

During Operation FALCON the U.S. Marshals Service’s (USMS) Office in Tucson received a request for assistance from the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department (LASD) regarding two South Korean Nationals wanted in the stabbing deaths of 4 people. These fugitives were identified as Steve KWON and Jae Hwan SHIM. The Mexican Investigative Liaison (MIL) Criminal Investigator received information and a request from Customs and Border Patrol in Douglas, Arizona that both fugitives were being held in Mexico at the National Institute of Immigration (INM). The MIL contacted the homicide bureau of the LASD who stated that both fugitives were wanted for a June 23, 2008, quadruple homicide that occurred in Lancaster, California. Two adults, a 10 year old boy and a 13 year girl were killed. The residence, where the homicides occurred, was then burned. The fugitives where believed to have fled to Mexico. LASD requested USMS assistance in the location and detention of the fugitives. The MIL contacted the INM office in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. INM determined that neither fugitive had any legal immigration status in Mexico. At the request of the USMS both KWON and SHIM were expelled to the U.S. through the U.S. Port of Entry in Douglas, Arizona. The MIL furthered his investigation which resulted in the location of the suspect vehicle which was seized by the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) in Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico. The USMS obtained investigative reports from Mexican counterparts which were provided to LASD in furtherance of their investigation. KWON and SHIM were booked into the Cochise County jail by LASD who charged both fugitives with homicide.

On January 27, 2006 a Regional Legal Attaché from the Attorney Generals Office in Mexico confirmed, with the U.S. Marshals Service Mexican Liaison in Tucson, AZ, that an arrest warrant has been issued by the Sixth Judge for Criminal Matters for the crime of homicide. Jose Libni De LA VARA-LOPEZ was named as the subject of the Mexican warrant. During Operation FALCON, intelligence was gathered as to the whereabouts of La VARA-LOPEZ, in the U.S. illegally. La VARA-LOPEZ was arrested without incident. He was then returned over to Mexican authorities with the support of the U.S. Border Patrol.

On June 25, 2008 Elbert SHABIE, 57, was arrested on the Navajo Indian Reservation in the village of Indian Wells, by Task Force Officers, for violating the conditions of his parole. SHABIE had served almost 28 years in federal prison after being convicted of a double murder that occurred on an Indian Reservation. As Task Force Officers attempted to arrest SHABIE in a relative’s residence he barricaded himself inside a bedroom of the home. After a short period of time the Officers were able to talk SHABIE out of the house and he was arrested without any further incident.

“Operation FALCON was a successful collaborative initiative which will bring closure to many open investigations and send a message to fugitives that “you can run but you can’t hide.” We are grateful to the community and all of our law enforcement partners throughout Arizona for the support in this endeavor”, said Fidencio Rivera, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona.

Operation Falcon involved over 154 law enforcement officers from 41 contributing agencies throughout Arizona. The agencies involved in the operation were: U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture – OIG, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona Attorney Generals Office, University of Arizona Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriffs Office, Maricopa County Adult Probation, Maricopa County Attorneys Office, Mohave County Sheriffs Office, Mohave County Adult Probation, Pima County Sheriffs Department, Pima County Probation Office, Pima County Attorneys Office, Pinal County Sheriffs Office, Pinal County Probation Office, Yavapai County Sheriffs Office, Bullhead City Police Department, Chandler Police Department, Cottonwood Police Department, El Mirage Police Department, Gilbert Police Department, Glendale Police Department, Mesa Police Department, Oro Valley Police Department, Peoria Police Department, Phoenix Police Department, Prescott Police Department, Prescott Valley Police Department, Sahuarita Police Department, Scottsdale Police Department, Sedona Police Department, Surprise Police Department, Tempe Police Department, Tucson Police Department,

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