88 fugitives arrested in Albuquerque during nationwide US Marshals operation

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The streets of Albuquerque are a little safer tonight, thanks to the U.S. Marshals Service and Operation North Star II. 

A 30-day nationwide operation targeting gangs, sex offenders and violent criminals, wrapped up in early February. Albuquerque was one of 10 cities selected because of significant rises it has seen in homicides and shootings.

During the month of January, the feds made 833 arrests across the country, seizing 181 firearms, 161 kilograms of illegal narcotics and more than $229,000 in currency.

88 of those fugitives were arrested in and around Albuquerque. Agents also seized 11 firearms and found a child who had been missing for nearly two years, with help from local law enforcement agencies and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office.

“One of the most significant cases we had in the last 30 days was the recovery of a minor child, and the reunification of that young girl with her mother,” said New Mexico U.S. Marshal Sonya K. Chavez said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference. 

“Y’all catch them, and we’ll prosecute them,” DA Sam Bregman added. “I can assure you that.”

Chavez explained that many of the individuals arrested were wanted for some sort of probation violation, including Walter Abbott. Agents picked him up in Rio Rancho on Jan. 18, but not before they said he stabbed and killed someone. He was already wanted in Sandoval County for first-degree attempted homicide and aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon.

Brandon Sanchez is another one of the 88 arrested. Agents said he is a suspect in 14 recent armed robberies in Albuquerque.

Chavez confirmed a recent house fire and SWAT investigation near La Cueva High School earlier this month was also connected to this operation.

“We had a job to do, and that was to apprehend a person who had a warrant, and he was in the home,” the Marshal said. “Sooner than later, smoke started coming from the home, and he was barricaded inside.”

Chavez said a lot of people put their lives at risk that day. 

“More so than on an average arrest, because they had to go in and save him,” she explained. “So the offender was taken to the hospital, and as of this morning, he’s still in the hospital.”

Chavez went on to say, while not everyone they put in jail stays in jail, it is their job to keep making arrests. She also said U.S. Marshals prioritized homicide warrants during Operation North Star II, but of the 88 arrests in Albuquerque, only four were for homicide cases.