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Operation FALCON nabs 24

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By JENNIFER HORTONThe Wilson Post

NASHVILLE -- A total of 24 fugitives locally were apprehended recently in a federal, state and local effort dubbed Operation FALCON 2009.

The 24 were part of a group of more than 624 fugitives in the Middle Tennessee area who were arrested in Operation FALCON which stands for Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally. The roundup began in Wilson on June 18.

During a press conference held at the headquarters of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in Nashville on Thursday, U.S. Attorney Ed Yarbrough said an effort such as this could not be accomplished without the help of law enforcement officials from throughout the area.

The Middle District of Tennessee includes 32 counties, stretching from the Tennessee River west of Nashville to the Cumberland Plateau east of Nashville to include Wilson County.

Read: Cops and robbers: Every boy’s dream

“It’s quite a large and varied geographic district,” he said, praising the cooperation among the law enforcement agencies involved. “This important initiative demonstrates the outstanding results that can be achieved when our local, state and federal partners work together. I am very proud of their accomplishments.”

He added that law enforcement agency representatives involved were not interested in taking credit for the success of the operation, but were “interested in getting the job done.”

Operation FALCON 2009 was the sixth in a series of fugitive apprehension efforts, led by the U.S. Marshals Service partnered with local police, sheriff’s departments, state troopers and other state and federal agencies. In the Middle District of Tennessee, local law enforcement agencies participating included the Lebanon and Mt. Juliet Police Departments and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department. A total of 64 local, state and federal agencies took part.

Yarbrough said the authorities apprehended known fugitives, those wanted for failure to appear for their court dates and those who had outstanding warrants but had not been arrested yet for various reasons. In some cases, he added, fugitives wanted by other states were arrested.

The arrests targeted those charged with violent crimes, sex offenders and narcotics violations.

He also praised the efforts of local law enforcement officers in the Middle District, noting often “they go out and make many of the biggest arrests.”

U.S. Marshal Denny King echoed Yarbrough’s comments, noting “it’s been a great relationship” among all the agencies involved.

“It’s a privilege to watch 64 agencies work together seamlessly as a team to bring fugitive felons to justice,” King said. “FALCON has changed the entire landscape when it comes to mustering forces to capture large numbers of criminal offenders. Apprehending almost 3,000 fugitives in these operations here in the past five years is a major accomplishment.”

In a message directed to fugitives who have not been apprehended, King said, “you can run, but you can’t hide. We are going to catch you.” Arrested locally in the roundup are the following, said Deputy U.S. Marshal Danny Shelton:

• Adonis B. Bowman• Sammy Bradford• Joseph A. Colyer• Timmy A. Davis Jr.• James W. Dinkins III• Trenton Dyer• Cameron Hastings• David W. Ivy• Rita Jones• Josh Joshlin• John W. Martin• Terric McFarland• Michelle Medina• Coery L. Neal• Pamela Pritchett• Aquilla Rollin• Charles Stafford• Eugene S. Stevenson• Michael Strader• Harold D. Whitley

Those who had warrants for their arrest issued in Wilson County but were arrested in Davidson County are:

• Charles R. Bradley• Christopher Fistunenko• Caroline Rucker

And arrested in Rutherford County on a warrant issued in Wilson was:• Terry Sellars

Specific charges, addresses and other information were not available by press time.

Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at news@wilsonpost.

Cops and robbers: Every boy’s dream

By BEN DUDLEYThe Wilson Post

I graduated in December of 2007 from the University of Alabama with a degree in Journalism. I had done a couple of stories for The Wilson Post while I was in school but now that I had moved back to Lebanon, I needed a job.

Sam Hatcher told me that he was looking for someone to write part-time for him and I accepted, of course, for two reasons. First, because writing is one of the few things I do well; and second, because the economy had made most other jobs disappear.

When I first sat down with Sam to talk about this job in May, one of the things he mentioned to me about reporting on was this U.S. Marshals sting operation called FALCON (Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally). He said he wanted me to ride along with them one day and report on their hunt for felons.

At first, I was a little nervous because I’ve seen the show “Cops.” I had in my mind that he was asking me to go on the front lines of the war on justice with no weapon but my pen and no shield but my notepad.

But then I got to thinking that I would get to fulfill every young boy’s dream. I would get to play cops and robbers in real life!

I called my contact at the Marshal’s office in Nashville and I was told to meet the team at the National Guard Armory on the morning of June 18. Needless to say, I was pretty excited.

I had never seen so many officers in my life. The parking lot was full of patrol cars from Lebanon City Police to Tennessee Highway Patrol to Smyrna and Murfreesboro Police and at the back of the lot was a huge bus for the mobile communications command post.

I met up with U.S. Marshal John Shell, who I would be riding with that day, and the first question I asked him was if I got to wear a bullet-proof vest. He actually laughed and said no.

I started getting that nervous feeling again because all the officers would be protected but I just had my notepad and pen. John told me that the only part of the car that we were riding in that could stop a bullet would be the engine block.

I shrugged it off and followed everyone inside for the morning briefing. U.S. Marshal John Hargis, commander for Region 3 which includes Sumner, Macon, Trousdale, Wilson, Smith, DeKalb, Rutherford and Cannon counties, began by giving the numbers for the previous day as well as the total numbers of arrests and warrants cleared for the operation so far.

“Yesterday (Wednesday, June 17), we had 16 arrests and 26 warrants cleared, making us second out of the four districts in the state,” Hargis said. “Nationally, we have arrested over 12,000 fugitives and our goal is 25,000.”

Working on my team were officers from THP, U.S. Marshals, Montgomery County Parole, Smyrna PD, Mt. Juliet PD, and our team leader, Cory Buhler, of Wilson County Sheriff’s Department. We found out that since Buhler had been deputized and working with the Marshals, his fellow sheriff’s deputies had taken to calling him “Tommy Lee” Buhler after the actor Tommy Lee Jones, who played a U.S. Marshal in the movies “The Fugitive” and “U.S. Marshals.”

“They jerk my chain about it, but they’re just jealous,” Buhler said jokingly.

We started off in the neighborhood right next to the armory where we arrested a woman for manufacturing a Schedule 6 drug and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony who was 8 months pregnant.

Before you start to feel bad for the woman, she had been arrested by Buhler just five weeks before and was quite unruly. This time, her boyfriend turned her in.

“Yeah she fought us pretty good,” Buhler said. “We thought she was gonna go into labor right then and there.”

After hitting two more houses where the perpetrators were not home, we went out into the county to arrest a young man who did not want to come out at first.

“I knocked on the door and I could hear him inside,” Buhler said. “The door looked like it had been kicked in, but I hadn’t done it. I told him to open the door or I was gonna kick it in and he finally let us in.”

The young man was arrested for selling of a schedule 6 drug. He told the officers that he had bought some heroin the night before, but when they looked in the bottle, they saw that he had actually been sold Viagra.

“This kid’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” Buhler said, “but at least he was honest.”

After that, our team split up in order to cover more ground. My group had some trouble finding our felons, but the other group arrested two sisters for writing bad checks under at least 100 different names.

We met back up for lunch before hitting a house with the whole team that had a felon who had been on the run for seven years and was said to be dangerous. I thought I was finally going to see some action.

Unfortunately, he was not home either.

While my team made six total arrests and cleared eight warrants, the rest of the task force did much better. Clearing a warrant means either that felon was arrested, is in custody elsewhere, or is dead.

It was most definitely a great experience and I have a newfound respect for our law enforcement officers. Hopefully, I made a good enough impression on them that I can get out of a speeding ticket the next time I’m pulled over.

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