ST. LOUIS (AP) — Authorities said Thursday that 162 fugitives, including murder suspects, gang members and others with violent criminal pasts, were arrested during a three-month crackdown in the St. Louis area.
The Marshals Service said that among those arrested was a man who was wanted for questioning in the killing of 7-year-old Xavier Usanga of St. Louis. Xavier was one of 13 children who were killed by gun violence in the city this year.
Malik Ross, the man wanted for questioning in Xavier’s death, was arrested on a federal charge related to an armored car robbery.
The arrests also included five members of a gang called 62 East Coast Crips who were believed to be involved in a plot to kill St. Louis police officers.
The effort was part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s “Operation Triple Beam,” in which task forces comprising local, state and federal law enforcement officers targeted violent fugitives nationwide.
U.S. Marshal John Jordan said 16 of the St. Louis-area arrests were connected to homicides. Sixty-nine suspected gang members were arrested, 40 firearms were seized, and nearly 10 pounds of illegal drugs were confiscated.
St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden said that the arrests “definitely have an impact on violent crime in St. Louis,” which has one of the nation’s highest murder rates.
The timing of Operation Triple Beam efforts varied across the country. The St. Louis operation was conducted from mid-June through mid-September. In addition to the U.S. Marshals Service, St. Louis city and county police, other local law enforcement agencies, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration took part in the operation.
It was dangerous work. Suspects shot at officers during four of the arrests, but no one was hurt, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Jensen said.
“Arresting them, capturing them, takes nothing short of bravery,” he said.
Western Missouri’s version of Operation Triple Beam ran from late May to August and resulted in 355 arrests. Federal authorities in Kansas City said many of those suspects also had long histories of violence.
The announcement in St. Louis came two days after U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced that federal authorities would continue to coordinate with state and local law enforcement to crack down on violence in cities with high crime rates. He did not elaborate on which cities would be targeted.