EL PASO,, Texas - For the last 12 weeks the El Paso Police Gang Task Force, US Marshals and other federal law enforcement officials have been hunting for alleged gang members and sex offenders.
Teams from 5 to up to 40 men, working all hours of the night, searched the streets of El Paso County looking for people with ties to local gangs with warrants, and sex offenders who've failed to register. And since August, they've arrested 136 men.
"We wanted to put this Triple Beam Operation together to go out there and send a message," said U.S. Marshal Robert Almonte. "We're not going to let these gang member commit crimes in our community. We're committed to keeping our community safe and we're going to do whatever it takes."
Operation Triple Beam initially targeted North East El Paso where Police Chief Greg Allen saw a steep increase in gang activity. But with the aid of federal funding and U.S. Marshall manpower, officers soon realized the entire county was infested with gangs buying and dealing narcotics, some of them allegedly embedded in the cartels, and perpetuating violence.
"We know how important it is to take these known criminals off the street, especially when they have a warrant over their head because by doing that we are preventing them from committing further crimes and we're keeping El Paso safe," Almonte said.
In total, 334 warrants were cleared, 119 gang bangers were found and arrested, 17 unregistered sex offenders were taken to jail, $85,000 of narcotics were seized, 5 firearms, and nearly $15,000 recovered. And they're not done yet.
"We're going to stay on their heels, we're not going to let them catch their breath and if they have a warrant our for them, I strongly urge and recommend that they turn themselves in because it's not a matter of if we're going to arrest them it's a matter of when," Almonte said.
Almonte said they expect to arrest nine more unregistered sex offenders in the coming weeks.