Operation Starstruck puts over 100 suspected gang members and fugitives behind bars

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – More than 127 suspected gang members and violent fugitives – wanted for felony assault, sexual assault, drug and firearm possession, and other crimes – are off the streets.

For the past 90 days, U.S. Marshals, along with other federal, local, and state law enforcement agencies, have been busy executing what they call “Operation Star Struck” which is part of the U.S. Marshals national campaign called, “Operation Triple Beam.”  FOX 16’s Kevin Kelly was given exclusive access as they tracked down some of these wanted suspects.

U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement officers have spent months on the operation, canvassing Pulaski, Arkansas, Faulkner, and Saline Counties hunting down and arresting a number of suspects wanted for various crimes.  One of those involved a suspect wanted in connection to a major drug operation being investigated by the DEA. Deputy U.S. Marshal Jeremy Hammons said these efforts help the agencies tackle larger rings.  “The goal is to break down these organizations,” Hammons told Kevin Kelly. “We went after people, you know, murderers, rapists… People that were large in the drug conspiracies, possession of firearms by felons.”

Days after that arrest, Conway Police tracked down and hauled in two more suspects, both with suspected ties to gangs and criminal activity. And in Pulaski County, law enforcement arrested another suspect who was wanted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for illegal possession of firearms.  “We tried to get some relief to the cities that were focused on and areas that were focused on,” Hammons said. “There were times that we left neighborhoods where we literally had people outside giving us a thumbs up or clapping.”

Over the course of 90 days, U.S. Marshals made nearly 130 arrests, and of those, 44 were of documented gang members. In addition to the arrests, 52 firearms were confiscated, along with 55 rounds of ammunition, nearly 8 kilograms of drugs, and more than $35,000 in cash.  Faulkner County Sheriff Tim Ryals believes the streets are “absolutely” safer as a result of Operation Star Struck.

Anytime you take the type of offender that was taken off the streets, the amount of drugs that were taken off the streets… You can bet the streets are always safer,” Ryals told Kevin Kelly.

Operation Triple Beam was launched nationwide back in 2010, and since then teams have cracked down on suspected gang members and dangerous fugitives in more than 80 cities, made more than 14,000 arrests, and seized more than 3,200 firearms.  And with that kind of success, there is no indication that the operation will stop anytime soon.

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