Police trick leads to clearing of 129 warrants

By Tammy Fonce-Olivas / El Paso Times

The promise of a television, an Xbox video game console and other prizes has led to the arrests of more than 100 people sought on warrants linked to violent crimes or drug charges, Police Chief Richard Wiles announced today.

Wiles said the arrests took place Nov. 5-9 under a warrant round up executed by El Paso Police the U.S. Marshals Office in El Paso.

The way the operation worked is people wanted on criminal warrants were led to believe that they had won a prize. When they showed up to claim their prize instead of getting a free gift they were arrested.

The ruse resulted in 115 arrests and the clearing of 129 warrants for various serious offenses such as drug charges, illegal entry charges and violent crimes. The effort also resulted in the collection of $25,686 in outstanding traffic fines.

"We are very pleased with this operation. This is the kind of operation that really benefits the community of El Paso," Wiles said. "I think it is important for the citizens of El Paso to know what the police department is doing and what the U.S. Marshals office is doing because we do take these outstanding warrants very seriously and we want to put the resources into getting these people behind bars," Wiles said.

U.S. Marshals Service supervisor Gerry Payan said about 50 officers were involved in the operation, including members of the Lone star Fugitive Task Force.

"Our goal is to try to keep El Paso safe and arrest as many fugitives as we can," Payan said.

Payan said the U.S. Marshals office teams up with police about four times a year to try to clear outstanding warrants.

This is the second time in three years that the two agencies have teamed up for a similar operation in which people wanted on criminal warrants were tricked into being arrested.

Wiles said the operation centered on a ruse to apprehend those sought on criminal charges because the more traditional arrest methods, such as going to a wanted person's home to make an arrest, had not worked.

"To do the things that we've done in this community in regards to the crime level, it really takes thinking outside of the box," Wiles said. "We have a lot of different ideas and we are willing to look at them no matter how crazy they sound from time to time. If we can do them legally, and it has an impact like this one does and it save the taxpayers money like this one does, then we are willing to implement it or give it a shot."

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