US Marshals arrest 137 in Bay Area sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU and wires) -- A sweep by U.S. Marshals and local police agencies has resulted in the arrest of 137 suspected felons including a suspect in the shooting death of an Oakland mother who was struck down by a stray bullet.

Called Operation Violence Reduction7, the operation targeted suspects involved in violent crimes in Oakland, Richmond and Antioch.

The biggest focus was in Oakland where nearly half of the 137 Bay Area suspects were taken into custody including Alex Davis who has been charged in the murder of 30-year-old Chyemil Pierce who was shoot outside of her Oakland home on March 9.

"In Oakland, we know there is a small group of people who commit these violent crimes," said Oakland police chief Sean Whent at a Thursday news conference announcing the arrests. "When they are allowed not to be caught, they will continue to be involved in violence…It's imperative to remove them from our streets."

Across the country, more than 7,100 fugitives, gang members, sex offenders and violent criminals were arrested in the six-week operation.

"The purpose of Operation VR7 was to protect our communities by removing the most dangerous criminals from the streets," said U.S. Marshals Service Director Stacia Hylton. "The operation utilized a strategic approach to identify and arrest the most violent wanted felony fugitives quickly in order to see the greatest impact on public safety."

The narrow criteria for cases adopted and investigated during Operation VR7 included fugitives wanted for murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, abduction/kidnapping, sexual assault and child molestation.

In all between March 2 and April 10, the operation resulted in 7,127 arrests, including 750 gang members, and the seizure of 383 firearms and more than 69 kilograms of illegal narcotics. Individual charges included 519 for homicide; 922 for weapons; 1,888 for assault; 583 for sexual assault; 1,093 for robbery; and 2,654 for narcotics.

"By taking these dangerous fugitives off the streets, we hope people feel safer in their communities," said Hylton. "Many of these fugitives we arrested were repeat offenders, who average eight prior arrests and three prior convictions for violent crimes."