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U.S. Marshals Arrest 137 In Bay Area Over 6 Weeks In Fugitive, Gang Sweep

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The U.S. Marshals Service arrested 137 alleged violent fugitives and gang members throughout the Bay Area as part of a nationwide sweep over the last six weeks, U.S. Marshals officials announced Thursday.

The operation ended Friday and included an East Oakland gang takedown, the arrest of several East Bay murder suspects, a fugitive out of Antioch and a registered sex offender who escaped Santa Clara County deputies.

In addition to the arrests, U.S. Marshals seized 27 weapons, narcotics, an explosive device and stolen ballistic vests, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

The operation was part of a nationwide crackdown on violent criminals dubbed Operation Violence Reduction 7. U.S. Marshals targeted seven urban areas with high rates of violent crime, including the East Bay region, with attention specifically directed to Oakland, Richmond and Stockton.

The Bay Area operation got started in early March, and in its first week the Marshals assisted in raids on March 5 stemming from a long Oakland police and FBI investigation into two East Oakland street gangs.

Sixteen suspects were arrested in the raids, but several targets were not located that day and the U.S. Marshals began searching for them in earnest, making at least six more arrests by the end of the month, U.S.  Marshals Deputy Joe Palmer said Thursday.

One of those suspects, 20-year-old Joel Robinson, was charged in the fatal shooting of Hamilton Rodriguez-Ramos during a robbery near the MacArthur BART station on Dec. 5. Robinson was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Berkeley on March 13.

U.S. Marshals arrested another Oakland murder suspect, 25-year-old Alex Davis, in Richmond on April 3. Davis is accused of participating in a shootout that took the life of Chyemil Pierce, an Oakland mother who died as she tried to usher her children to safety outside her home in the 2800 block of Chestnut Street on March 9.

So far seven people have been charged in that case.

"If a subject was not immediately arrested, the assigned team would work tirelessly until that subject was apprehended," Marshals Service officials said in a prepared statement. "There were no days off, teams worked weekends and all hours of the night."

The aggressive enforcement did lead to at least one case of mistaken identity, when deputies thought they spotted a wanted felon but instead targeted a man who identified himself as Oakland activist Jabari Shaw.

The Marshals Service launched an investigation into the incident after a woman driving the car Shaw was riding in fled as the deputies tried to apprehend him, eventually colliding with a paratransit bus and injuring five people.

Shaw said later in a Facebook post it was not clear the deputies in unmarked cars were law enforcement, so they fled.

In Contra Costa County, marshals arrested a murder suspect, Carlos Gabrielle Ventura, 22, who had been wanted in the Aug. 24 shooting death of 30-year-old Deon Anderson in Antioch.

Ventura was believed to have fled to the Reno area but was eventually found in an acquaintance's apartment in Antioch on March 12 and taken into custody.

In another Antioch incident, Marshals chased a 17-year-old fugitive through the Antioch High School campus, putting schools in the area on lockdown. The suspect was eventually found and booked into juvenile hall.

The nationwide approach also enabled Marshals to track a registered sex offender who escaped Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies to Mississippi.

Johnell Carter, 40, escaped custody on March 6 after he was taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for an appointment. He remained at large for about a month, fleeing to Nevada and then catching a bus to Mississippi, before marshals tracked him down.

The 137 suspects arrested were wanted on charges ranging from parole violations to murder, with arrests also for gang affiliation, weapons charges, sex crimes and armed robbery as well.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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