US Marshals Alarmed By Number Of Guns Found With Wanted Suspects
Apr 1, 2021, 2:27 PM | Updated: 3:05 pm
(Photo by Shane T. McCoy/U.S. Marshals)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Members of the United States Marshals Service said they are alarmed by the increased number of weapons they are confiscating after arresting wanted suspects.
Officials said the U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team, which includes members from 26 state and local law enforcement agencies, has made a significant number after arrests in recent weeks. So far in 2021, VFAST agents have arrested 125 wanted individuals.
A news release said 37% of those arrests were suspects wanted on firearms violations and 34% were involved with gangs.
Many of those cases are referred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the United States Attorney’s Office to consider whether additional federal weapons charges could apply.
For example, Jacob Loren Thompson had been convicted four times previously for possession of ammunition by a prohibited person. His most recent arrest in Kaysville was for domestic violence which led to an investigation of impersonating an officer.
During a search of his apartment, investigators found body armor, two AR-15s without serial numbers and with barrels that were illegal, a custom-built handgun without a serial number and other illegal items.
VFAST arrested Arthur Wayne Najera last week. He was accused of attacking a woman at a West Valley City bus stop and was charged with aggravated kidnapping and six counts of aggravated sexual assault.
The news release said Najera was a known gang member and had a lengthy history with Utah Adult Probation and Parole, including possession of dangerous weapons, possession with intent to distribute, and burglary. He was eventually arrested in Page, Arizona.
United States Marshal for the District of Utah, Matthew D. Harris said, “Our efforts illustrate there is no distance too far, nor lengths too small we will go to ensure victims of predatory crimes receive the justice they deserve.” He also added, “the increase in the number of fugitives with firearms is alarming. These felons often steal firearms from residential locations or utilize straw buyers to purchase weapons. Both the felons and those who provide weapons to them must be penalized.”
Nick Chournos, VFAST supervisor added, “These arrests are great examples of how a team like VFAST benefits both federal and state agencies. More importantly, how it benefits the communities we protect.”