Phoenix, AZ – From December 8th – 10th, the U.S. Marshals Service in Arizona, along with 38 partnering state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, conducted “Operation Grinch Stopper 2015.” The operation focused on fugitives wanted for outstanding arrest warrants for property crimes to include robbery, burglary, theft, larceny and drugs. This operation resulted in the arrest of 205 fugitives statewide.
Operation Grinch Stopper was created in response to the November 18, 2012 shooting of Tucson Police Sgt. Robert Carpenter who was non-fatally shot during a response to a burglary alarm. This tragedy inspired the U.S. Marshals in Arizona to impact property crimes which are known to increase during the holiday season thereby enhancing public safety and improving the quality of life in our communities.
“This annual statewide three day fugitive operation, worked in conjunction with our state and local police enforcement partners, is designed to make for a safer Christmas and holiday season,” stated David P. Gonzales, U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona. “Experience has shown that property and drug crimes go hand-in-hand and fugitives will take advantage of the busy shopping season to prey upon our communities. Our goal in the arrest of fugitives was to reduce the number of “Grinches” whose aim is to “steal Christmas”.
Operation Grinch Stopper also concentrated on drug crimes due to the correlation between property crimes and illicit drug use. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, offenders convicted of robbery, burglary, and larceny/theft were most likely to commit their offenses to obtain money to buy drugs.
Since its creation in 2012, Grinch Stopper operations have resulted in 701 arrests and 918 warrants cleared. The goal behind this enforcement initiative is to identify, locate and arrest subjects who have a history of property offenses. The intent is that this effort will aid in the prevention of additional property offenses, which historically increase during the holiday season.
“Operation Grinch Stopper is an excellent example of the law enforcement community partnering in a cooperative effort to positively impact our communities,” said Chief Sean Duggan of the Chandler Police Department. “Law enforcement agencies share resources to provide more efficient service and a safer community where our citizens live, work and thrive.”
Now in its fourth year, Operation Grinch Stopper continues to be a success netting 205 arrests in Arizona and clearing 227 warrants, with 161 arrests in Phoenix, 33 arrests in Tucson, and 11 arrests in Yuma. While property crimes were the objective of this operation, during their investigation officers also arrested 14 assault suspects, 12 sex offenders and 2 suspects wanted for sex crimes against children.
Those apprehended during the enforcement operation included the following:
- James Thompson, 27, was arrested in Mesa on December 9th on a Felony Parole Violation warrant. Thompson’s underlying charges include Armed Robbery and Trafficking Stolen Goods, for which he served five years in prison. When Deputy U.S. Marshals and Task Force members initiated contact with Thompson, he attempted to hide and ignored commands while shouting expletives at officers. Officers were forced to tase Thompson, after which he quickly complied and was taken into custody.
- Michael Francis, 27, was located and arrested on December 9th in Tucson, Arizona. Francis was wanted for Parole Violation stemming from a conviction for two counts of Burglary in 2012 for which he was sentenced to three years in prison. In addition, Francis was also wanted on Disorderly Conduct for Domestic Violence. As Deputy U.S. Marshals and Task Force members approached his residence, a large aggressive dog was unleashed from the front door. Francis then emerged from underneath the trailer home, leading officers on a brief foot pursuit. Francis was quickly apprehended and taken into custody without further incident.
While property crimes are what most of these subjects have in common, law enforcement officers participating in Operation Grinch Stopper often encounter individuals wanted for more violent crimes such as:
- Fabian Flores, 24, was located and arrested in Phoenix, Arizona on December 9th. Flores was wanted on a Probation Violation warrant with underlying charges of Aggravated Assault. Flores, who has a lengthy criminal history to include Assault, Weapons Misconduct, and Drugs was contacted by Deputy U.S. Marshals and Task Force members and immediately refused to comply with officer commands by becoming combative and resisting arrest despite being tased by officers. Flores, a prohibited possessor, subsequently complied and was taken into custody where he was found to be in possession of a .45 caliber handgun, ammunition and $9,322.00 in cash.
“The Oro Valley Police Department is proud to work with the U.S. Marshals Service every year on Operation Grinch Stopper,” said Chief Daniel Sharp of the Oro Valley Police Department. “Regional cooperation is essential to deploying multiple resources in combating crime.”
“Operation Grinch Stopper is a great opportunity to bring multiple agencies together to serve our community,” said Chief John Lekan of the Yuma Police Department. “Only through our combined partnerships with these federal agencies can we truly create safer communities.”
“I commend the U.S. Marshals Service and our law enforcement partners for apprehending these suspects and providing us an opportunity to hold them accountable,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Operation Grinch Stopper will not only help us continue to drive down Arizona’s property crime rate but deter others from engaging in this type of criminal activity.”
The United States Marshals Service is the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency. Annually, U.S. Marshals arrest more than 50 percent of all federal fugitives and serve more federal warrants than all other federal agencies combined.