Fugitive Finders: As crime rates rise, US Marshals tackle repeat offenders

·3 min read

As the crime rate rises across the Carolinas and the country, the suspects involved are in many cases repeat offenders.

This not only puts a strain on local law enforcement departments, but also puts more people in the community at risk of becoming victims.

PART 1: Fugitive Finders: US Marshals team with local officers to catch wanted criminals in the Carolinas

The U.S. Marshals Carolinas Regional Fugitive Task Force is working to tackle the trend, and Channel 9′s Genevieve Curtis got an exclusive look at how they’re doing it. The joint task force between Marshals and local agencies is the first collaboration of its kind.

It is focused on finding more than 130 wanted fugitives in Gaston and York counties, like Charlene Bozart. She has a criminal history with convictions for trafficking meth and is known to move between the two counties.

During one operation, the surveillance unit had spotted Bozart heading into a trailer and that’s when the team moved in.

“Hands up. Turn around,” one officer can be heard saying. “Hey man, who else is in the house?”

That’s when two people who had just driven up to the home claimed not to know anyone inside. Investigators said they found a needle on one of them and that it’s the type used to shoot meth.

“This is the United States Marshals Service with a warrant with your arrest,” an officer said. “Charlene Bozart, we know you are in the house. Come to the front door with your hands up.”

After surrounding the house and detaining several people, their target came outside about 10 minutes later.

PART 2: Fugitive Finders: When does law enforcement cross state lines to capture wanted criminals?

Deputy commander Brian Alfano said getting repeat offenders off the streets is the Marshal’s mission.

“We’re gonna go after all these individuals that just commit crimes after crimes after crimes that give no breathing room to the communities to flourish. And we’re going to do the best we possibly can to get them behind bars,” Alfano said.

This particular operation was focused on helping local agencies find fugitives in their own backyard, with an overall goal of reducing violent crime in every neighborhood, and preventing others from becoming victims.

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson and his team brought the Bozart case to the task force. He said he’s very concerned about drugs in his county and all of the related crimes.

“I’m no different than any other sheriff in America right now. Fentanyl is a big deal. It’s killing people every day. Our young people are dabbling in it and its scary,” Tolson said. “It’s a powder keg. We don’t know how its going to go.”

NEXT: Part 4: Fugitive Finders: Meet the furriest member of the US Marshals’ task force

The operation helps local agencies address sources and pockets of crime that would be hard to do on their own as many departments face staffing shortages.

“I think we’ve seen it, so many local agencies are on our staff. It’s been harder and harder for agencies to stay at a full staff and of course, that means that they’re busy all the time. When you take somebody off the streets that you know is a repeat offender, you give them some breathing room,” Alfano said.

This operation took 91 people off the streets, many of whom were wanted for multiple crimes. That included five wanted for homicide and 16 known gang members.

“We’ll look at the stats and it has been a couple weeks since a shoot has occurred. We can directly say. ‘Oh wow, there wasn’t a shooting in the last few weeks, or a month, there’s a direct correlation,’” Alfano said.

In all, the operation involved 19 separate agencies working together against violent crime. It was paid for with federal money.

(WATCH BELOW: Fugitive Finders: US Marshals team with local officers to catch wanted criminals in the Carolinas)