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'Operation Triple Beam' paired local cops and feds to arrest 400 suspects, impound drugs


The 90-day operation ended on Oct. 31

Joshua Kellogg   | Farmington Daily Times
  • "Operation Triple Beam Albuquerque" was led by the U.S. Marshals Southwest Investigative Fugitive Team along with multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
  • The Farmington Police Department and San Juan County Sheriff's Office participated in the operation.
  • For the Farmington and Santa Fe area, 92 arrests were made.
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FARMINGTON — San Juan County law enforcement agencies participated in a large-scale, 90-day federal operation during which more than 400 arrests were made in northern and central New Mexico

"Operation Triple Beam Albuquerque" was led by the U.S. Marshals Southwest Investigative Fugitive Team along with multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

A total of 19 federal, state and local agencies were involved in the operation, which ended on Oct.  31, including the Farmington Police Department and San Juan County Sheriff's Office.

Attorney General William Barr spoke of the operation's achievements at a press conference held on the afternoon of Nov. 12 at the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office in Albuquerque.

The national fugitive apprehension operation targets cities with the high crime rates to arrest violent offenders.

"The key to Operation Triple Beam is that it is conducted in close cooperation with state and local law enforcement, who really are the backbone of the effort," Barr said in prepared remarks. "I’d like to congratulate all those who participated, and are here today, in a very successful operation."

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe and San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari attended the press conference.

Barr called the program "an important tool in our attack on violent crime. Approximately half of all the arrests made under Operation Triple Beam have occurred in the last two years, though the program started in 2011. This gives you an indication of how we are escalating this effort."

There were 92 arrests made in the Farmington and Santa Fe area. A total of 327 arrests were made in the Albuquerque metro area and Bernalillo County.

The statistics shared by the U.S. Department of Justice cover the entire operation, including the arrest of 10 homicide suspects, 13 sex crime suspects and 91 narcotics suspects.

Narcotics recovered included more than 50 pounds of methamphetamine, four pounds of heroin and two pounds of cocaine.

Ferrari told The Daily Times deputies performed 91 physical arrests and served 123 felony warrants.

Five handguns were seized, along with 20 grams of heroin, 15 grams of meth and five grams of cocaine.

Some of the suspects the agency arrested included people accused of violent crimes, career criminals and sex offenders, according to Ferrari.

"I think these are the worst of the worst," Ferrari said.

Ferrari added he hopes the suspects facing state charges remain in jail as he believed they may end up back on the streets due to "current bond reform."

The New Mexico Supreme Court issued new procedural rules regarding pretrial detention and release in all criminal cases in July 2017.

People have criticized the changes, believing they have led to too many suspects being released from jail pending trial.

Farmington Police Department Spokesperson Nicole Brown said the agency values any kind of concentrated operation with the U.S. Marshals to apprehend violent offenders.

She added those operations help increase the safety of the community.

The agency's Gang Unit worked closely with the U.S. Marshals during the operation. Farmington police served three of the 10 homicide warrants during the operation, according to Brown

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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