Police roundup targets probation violators

Staff reportsApril 3, 2009 

— Federal marshals and local police rounded up 60 probation violators this week in an intensive operation aimed at finding people who had been eluding authorities.

This week's efforts were the culmination of a fugitive roundup in the Raleigh area that started in early February, the U.S. Marshals Service said in an announcement.

Altogether, authorities made 109 arrests and cleared more than 120 warrants since the start of the operation, they said. Officers also recovered three firearms, ammunition and counterfeit drugs.

The operation, called "March Madness" began when state probation officers assigned to a violent fugitive task force gathered the names of about 950 probation absconders and violators from Wake County and collected information on their possible whereabouts, the Marshals Service said.

The operation involved Wake County deputies and police from Raleigh, Sharpsburg and Wilson.

A similar effort in Wilmington two weeks ago resulted in a the arrests of 40 probation violators and 180 others wanted on other charges.

Recent reports by The News & Observer have focused on shortcomings in the state's probation system. Some 13,000 offenders were missing as of late last year.

And since 2000, 580 probationers have been accused of killings while they were supposed to be under supervision. Those deaths included the slaying of UNC-Chapel Hill student leader Eve Carson and Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato.

Gov. Beverly Perdue has proposed a $28 million plan to hire probation officers, raise their salaries and improve improve communications.

A spokesman for the U.S. Marshal Service said that the increased scrutiny of the state probation system did not play a significant role in the dragnet.

"We routinely do roundups for all our agencies," Brian Konig, a deputy U.S. marshal, said this morning. "It just happened to be probation's turn."

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