Oct. 13—A multi-jurisdictional approach to law enforcement led to the arrests of 44 fugitives in September, Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin Hatfield said Tuesday.
The U.S Marshals Southern District of West Virginia CUFFED (Cops United Felony Fugitive Enforcement Division) Task Force made the arrests from Sept. 7 to Sept. 24 in a sting called "Operation Invectus." During the operation, officers served outstanding warrants.
The arrests were made primarily in Raleigh, Fayette and Mercer counties, said Hatfield.
Task force members captured a Raleigh County man who is charged with conspiring with another man for the two men to sexually assault a woman in July.
Alfred Pittman was arrested during the operation with a second degree sexual assault charge and conspiracy to commit a felony after he was accused of driving a woman from a Beckley Go-Mart to the home of David Hudson, who is on home confinement for murder. He told police he was running errands for Hudson.
The two men are accused of holding the woman down and sexually assaulting her after she verbally told them to stop.
Hatfield added that CUFFED members include Beckley Police Department and Raleigh County Sheriff's Office.
Other members are U.S. Marshals, West Virginia State Police, Fayette Sheriff's Office and Wyoming Sheriff's Office, along with Cabell, Mercer, Jackson, Putnam and Roane sheriff's offices and police departments from Prince, Ravenswood and Ironton, Ohio, according to a press release.
"Local law enforcement is integral," said Hatfield. "This is a force multiplier.
"I'm a big believer in collaborative efforts. I'm just really proud of the law enforcement community we have, for doing that, and for taking that multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional approach to fugitive apprehension."
He said the warrants were a combination of active and habeas warrants for failure to appear in court.
"Our law enforcement officers are busy answering calls and things like that, so when we call in the CUFFED Task Force, it's not, necessarily, 'calling in the feds,' so to speak, but it is a utilization of a task force that is a combination of U.S. Marshals and local law enforcement agencies."
The local officers have been deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service to serve on the CUFFED Task Force.
Hatfield said the sting led to the capture of three gang members from larger cities who were living in West Virginia and a suspect wanted on first degree murder charges in another county.
"I would like to thank our partner agencies across southern West Virginia for dedicating officers to the CUFFED task force," said U.S. Southern District of West Virginia Marshal Michael T. Baylous. "Their commitment and dedication has allowed the CUFFED Task Force to become one of the most efficient and effective in the country at apprehending fugitives."