By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - More than 10,000 fugitives, many wanted for violent crimes, were rounded up over the past week in a coordinated nationwide effort led by U.S. marshals.
Officers from 960 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies took part in the concentrated search, which coincided with Crime Victims Rights Week, officials said. The dragnet caught 10,340 people, some of whom had two or more outstanding arrest warrants, Justice Department officials said.
More than 150 who were arrested were wanted for murder, another 550 were sought on rape or sexual assault charges, and more than 600 had outstanding arrest warrants for armed robbery, officials said. Among those captured were 150 gang members and 100 unregistered sex offenders, they said.
One armed suspect was found beneath a trap door in his kitchen, they said.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and U.S. Marshals Service director Ben Reyna were to announce details of the roundup later Thursday.
Codenamed "Operation Falcon," the dragnet was the largest ever in numbers of arrests and involved local, state and federal authorities, said Marshals Service spokesman David Turner.
Turner said previous coordinated roundups resulted in arrests in the hundreds, but did not involve as many officers or agencies.
For all of last year, marshals arrested more than 36,000 people wanted on federal warrants, and worked with state and local authorities in catching another 31,600 fugitives, according to the Marshals Service's Web Site.
Among those arrested were escaped prisoners and criminal suspects who did not turn up for court proceedings.
Congress gave the Marshals Service more money and authority to go after fugitives when it refocused the FBI's mission toward stopping terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Turner said. The Marshals Service now has five permanent regional task forces to search for fugitives, he added.