WEST MICHIGAN-- A nationwide crackdown by the U.S. Marshal Service has led to the arrest of more than 8,000 fugitives, including more than 100 from West Michigan. It is part of Operation Violence Reduction 12, a six-week initiative focusing on apprehending the nation's most dangerous criminals.
This year's operation focused on fugitives with three or more prior arrests for violent offenses and those accused of sex crimes. That included Navjot Singh and Lee David Southwell; two of West Michigan's Most Wanted.
Between February 1 and March 11, more than 100 fugitives, gang members, sex offenders and violent criminals in the Western District of Michigan were arrested.
One of the fugitives, Navjot Singh, was wanted for assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and armed robbery causing serious injury.
In December, Singh allegedly used a claw hammer to beat and rob a gas station attendant in Battle Creek. Police arrested Singh in February, who was hiding out in an attic at a home in Queens, New York. Singh has been extradited and is currently housed in Calhoun County Jail. He will be arraigned on March 29.
The other West Michigan fugitive was 47-year-old Lee David Southwell. The Holland resident was wanted by Kentwood police for criminal sexual conduct involving a person under the age of 16. Police also seized 1.5 grams of suspected methamphetamine and more than $2,300 in cash from the home. Southwell has prior offenses including embezzlement, larceny and attempted false pretenses.
"The commitment to public safety here in Western Michigan is clearly evident during these types of joint operations" said U.S. Marshal Peter Munoz. "The resources dedicated by our state, local and federal partners to taking dangerous fugitives off the streets has been outstanding. The collaboration amongst agencies to accomplish the important mission of fugitive apprehension has never been better."
The national effort resulted in the arrest of 648 gang members and others wanted on charges including 559 for homicide and 946 for sexual offenses. Investigators seized 463 firearms, $390,360 in currency and more than 71 kilograms of illegal narcotics. This year's effort also focused on the recovery of missing children, which resulted in the recovery of 17 children who were abducted and reported missing.