A nationwide roundup of fugitives has taken dozens of dangerous criminals off streets right here in Lubbock. It is all thanks to "Federal And Local Cops Organizing Nationally," known as "Operation FALCON 2". The week-long effort ended with more than 9,000 arrests nationwide, including 82 here in Lubbock. Now, we ask, how long have these fugitive sex offenders gone undetected? NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel has the special report.
You can find out where registered sex offenders live by searching by zip code on-line or by watching the city's TV channel. Now, we are targeting the sex offenders you are not aware of; the predators that come into our community without alerting anyone of their past conviction.
During an early morning raid officers were able to capture suspected sex offenders. The problem is their neighbors never knew they lived there. Neither did Megan Kanka parents, a 7-year-old girl from New Jersey who was raped and killed by a known child molester that lived across the street. Jessica Lundsford was 9. She was abducted from her Florida home, tortured, and buried alive, also by a convicted child molester living on the same block. Jacob Wetterling was 11 when a man in a mask took him from his own neighborhood, never to be seen again. These victims all have one thing in common, they were kidnapped, raped and killed by sex offenders that were unaccounted for by local law enforcement. Their names are now part of legislation that is being introduced to the United States Congress to stop predators from getting out, and re-offending.
NewsChannel 11 cameras recorded video of a nationwide effort being executed locally. They call it "Operation FALCON 2," Federal And Local Cops Organizing Nationally, taking violent criminals off the streets.
The focus was on fugitive sex offenders like 24-year-old Leon Childers who was wanted out of Amarillo for a parole violation after being charged of Aggravated Sexual Assault with a child. He was arrested at his job on 33rd and Indiana.
Lubbock County Sheriff David Gutierrez said in a press conference, "I want the public and criminals to know this isn't the last. You'll be hearing from us in the very near future."
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Lubbock PD Registered Sex Offenders
So far Operation FALCON has taken six unregistered sex offenders in Lubbock out of the neighborhoods and in to jail. Sex offenders like Joe Martinez, convicted of sexual assault, now in jail. Leon Childers, living near 4th and Frankford, charged with aggravated sexual assault with a child; and Michael Duque, charged with indecency with a child. All accused sex offenders that have gone undetected in our current system.
U.S. Marshal Ronnie O'Neal says, "That's the trouble we have here locally here, is having the man power and the time to really do this, cause sometimes you can spend weeks tracking one person."
So how long have these predators escaped authorities and put our neighborhoods at risk? City Councilman Gary Boren says, "The days of allowing children to run up and down your street are pretty much over." And Boren wants to change that. One year ago, he originated the idea of putting names and pictures of local sex offenders on the city cable channel 2.
"We put their pictures, their names, their addresses and what events they had been convicted of, which by law is correct. We were told we were the first city in the state of Texas to do so." But now Boren wants to see even more done. One answer might be using ankle bracelets. In fact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children agree. Their web site says, "the increased mobility of our society has led to 'lost' sex offenders, those who fail to comply with registration duties yet remain undetected due to law enforcement's inability to track their whereabouts."
82 Violent Criminals Arrested in Lubbock Through "Operation FALCON 2"
"If we're not going to lock them up, and I believe they should be locked up, if you're going to convict them and then turn them loose in neighborhoods, and they will repeat the crime, if you're going to do that, then you got to have some kind of tracking device."
But until states find an answer to track, and keep track of predators, we'll continue to share our communities with sex offenders. But Boren and many others hope that the tragic deaths of these children will be a reminder that losing predators in the system is a problem that effects us all. "I think we have to deal with it in our generation and I think the time has come today."
Boren says he is currently working to change city and state laws for tougher prosecution and tougher sentencing on sex offenders, like the death penalty for those charged with rape and murder.
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