Pair of police sweeps across Eastern Washington nabs 162 fugitives

More than 160 people have been arrested in a series of police sweeps across Eastern Washington that have targeted suspects in gang-related and violent crimes.

"There are times when you've got to scrape the crud off the streets and arrest the guys that are habitual criminals," said Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin.

The operations, which involved local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, were made last week but not announced until Monday.

In the Yakima Valley, the arrests led to the discovery of a Zillah chop shop and a marijuana growing operation at an undisclosed Lower Valley location.

The officers arrested one person involved with the chop shop and recovered eight stolen vehicles, many of them from the Tri-Cities, Irwin said. Officers also believe the suspect was involved with an elaborate identity theft operation, Irwin said.

There were 48 arrests in Yakima, Grant and Chelan counties as part of a sweep dubbed Operation Cooperation.

Led by the U.S. Marshal's office, that operation included the state Department of Corrections, U.S. Border Patrol and numerous police departments, Irwin said.

In the Tri-Cities areas, 19 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies conducted a similar sweep of gang-related fugitives dubbed Operation Summer Heat.

In all, officers arrested 162 people in the two operations in Yakima, Grant, Chelan, Walla Walla and Spokane counties and the Tri-Cities area.

The sweeps netted suspects for serious crimes elsewhere. In Spokane, officers caught a man wanted in connection with a triple homicide in Lewis County. Authorities arrested John Allen Booth, 31, Wednesday night in Spokane after a statewide manhunt.

Authorities lauded the cooperation that multi-agency roundups used.

"These sweeps are very effective," said Sunnyside Police Chief Ed Radder.

Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg said the Summer Heat raid was the fourth of four Tri-City area sweeps that have targeted fugitives with suspected gang ties and violent histories. Those four have resulted in 160 arrests, he said.

"We're just trying to work a little smarter with the resources we have," Hohenberg said.

Some of those sweeps paid for overtime through grants obtained by the same U.S. Attorney's Office Safe Streets program that federal and Yakima area law enforcement authorities plan to start soon in the Yakima Valley, Irwin said.

Copyright (c) 2010, Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.

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