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Federal Aid

The U.S. Marshals Service has launched a support program to help local officers track down the worst of the worst.

May 01, 2004  |  by Shelly Feuer Domash

In the Field

Although each task force and each satellite office is named for a geographic location, their operations are not limited to that area. Officers and agents attached to these units log some serious frequent traveler miles.

For example, Depaul's Long Island team worked the Beltway Sniper case. "We got a call and we had our team respond to the Washington area to assist Chief Moose. We went down, myself and six investigators, and we jumped in with two feet and assisted with electronic surveillance and anything else they needed us for," DePaul says.

The Beltway Case was unusual not because it required the task force officers and marshals to travel, but because the crimes did not originate in the New York/New Jersey area. Most of the operations involving the officers of the Long Island unit start in their own backyard.

George Freund, a detective with the Nassau County (N.Y.) Police Department, says the Long Island satellite office of the Marshal's task force has been a great resource. "Maybe I need a warrant," he says. "If the {task force] is working on a case and I want a copy [of its file], all I have to do is call and I can get one. Otherwise, I would be asked to fax our request in on letterhead and wait."

When regional task forces are established, marshals "deputize" local law enforcement officers so they can have the same level of authority as the Marshals, resulting in local authorities being able to act quickly in interstate investigations.

Rounding Them Up

Since its formation in 2001, the Long Island satellite unit of the New York/New Jersey task force has been a fugitive's worst nightmare. And the beneficiaries have been local departments who have received aid in apprehending some of their most difficult criminals.

For example, Arthur Brown was wanted for burglary in multiple jurisdictions including Nassau County, Westchester County, Bergen County, New Jersey, and New York City. He was also wanted for armed robbery, home invasion, and criminal possession of a firearm. Yet he had managed to evade arrest.

But Brown was finished when local cops brought in the task force. Task force members learned that their fugitive target had a cell phone and then they were able to establish a pattern of calls that were centered in the Brooklyn area of New York. After analyzing this information, the task force determined that Brown was at his children's mother's home. He was arrested without incident.

Often cooperation with other agencies is the key to the success of the task force. Consider the case of Raheem Mableton. In 1998, Mableton was arrested by the Suffolk County police and charged with assault with intent to cause serious bodily injury and endangering the welfare of a minor. He intentionally immersed a three-year-old child into scalding water, causing second and third degree burns that required skin grafts.

Mableton was convicted but he was released on bail between his conviction and his sentencing, and he skipped. To bring him to justice, local police enlisted the aid of the task force.

The task force concentrated its manpower and technology resources on finding Mableton. For months, task force officers, agents, and Marshals, interviewed Mableton's contacts, surveiled his known hangouts, and monitored his communications.

All that hard work led to a confidential informant who could pinpoint Mableton's location. Approximately three months after the task force was called in on the case, Mableton was arrested as he tried to escape a residence on Long Island.

Foreign Affairs

The task force has also been successful in preventing fugitives from leaving the country and tracking down foreign fugitives in the United States.

Uno Kim was wanted by the Manchester (N.H.) Police Department. He was a suspect in the murders of two senior males who were strangled, stabbed, and robbed of $200,000.

Manchester detectives believed that Kim was in the New York/New Jersey area and enlisted the assistance of the task force. The task force quickly identified Kim's cell phone and tracked him to New York City. By pulling his call information, they also discovered that he had been in touch with Korean Airlines and that he was attempting to flee the country.

With the cooperation of the airline, the task force discovered that Kim was booked on a specific flight. And they had him. All they had to do was watch the airport and wait for Kim to come to them. He was arrested in one of the airport lounges.

The Kim case illustrates the importance of bringing the task force into a case as soon as possible. Another recent case shows how the task force has increased cooperation among local police, Marshals, and international law enforcement.

Shane Andre Taylor was wanted by London Metropolitan Police for homicide. He was alleged to have been the triggerman in a fatal drive-by shooting with a machine gun. Leads supplied by Interpol London indicated he might be living in the Bronx, New York. Details of call records led New York/New Jersey task force investigators to an Arizona address, where he was later spotted. He was arrested without incident.

"Task forces like this one in New York and other places have shown that when law enforcement works together tremendous results can be achieved," says Chief Inspector Tim Williams, commanding officer of the New York/New Jersey task force.

Shelly Feuer Domash is a Long Island-based freelance writer and a frequent contributor to POLICE magazine.

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