The Associated Press
Updated: November 12, 2019 02:36 PM
Created: November 12, 2019 06:18 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - U.S. Attorney General William Barr promoted a crime-fighting initiative Tuesday in New Mexico as the state struggles to curb some of the highest property and violent crimes rates in the nation.
Barr joined U.S. Marshal Service Director Donald Washington and other federal authorities in Albuquerque to announce the arrests of more than 300 fugitives suspected of violent crimes.
The arrests in the Albuquerque area included several dozen state probation and parole absconders as well as fugitives wanted for homicide, assault, sex crimes and drug charges. More than 90 arrests were made in Santa Fe and Farmington.
Federal authorities also recovered 31 stolen vehicles and seized illegal firearms, drugs and $50,000 in cash.
The arrests resulted from Operation Triple Beam, a program that has been conducted in numerous cities and led to hundreds of arrests, officials said. In the past year, authorities have touted arrests and guns seized under the program in Salina, California, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, and Lawrence, Massachusetts.
In New Mexico, the arrests resulted from a three-month operation, officials said.
FBI figures from 2018, the most recent year available, show the state had the nation’s second highest violent crime rate and its highest property crime rate, despite Albuquerque reporting a slight decrease in both categories for the first time in years.
The shift for Albuquerque came as both violent and property crime declined nationwide for a second consecutive year.
For New Mexico, Albuquerque’s offenses accounted for more than half of the state’s crime overall.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently announced that a special state law enforcement unit would be responsible for finding fugitives. The unit’s seven state police officers and seven corrections officers are expected to help reduce the 1,600 bench warrants for people linked to violent crimes in New Mexico.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said he welcomed the outside help in crime-fighting.
“I am grateful for all federal, state, and local law enforcement resources and support to combat Albuquerque’s crime crisis,” he said in a brief emailed statement.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Barr and Washington had chosen Albuquerque as a city to highlight Operation Triple Beam.
The U.S. Marshals Service serves as a lead agency in the operations throughout the country.
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