Consider, too, the case of one fugitive who was wanted for murder and had eluded authorities for four years. He was arrested in a homeless shelter after he applied for food stamps using the shelter's address -- not a very smart move with "Operation Talon" agents on the case.

And, in another case, a food stamp recipient arrested in Chicago was a fugitive wanted for selling large amounts of illegal drugs. When he was arrested, he attempted to flee, but Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Kim Widup and a local police officer tackled and subdued him. It's a good thing, too, because this fugitive was carrying eight knives, nine lengths of metal pipe, three molotav cocktails, a tire iron, and a screwdriver, and he later threatened to burn down the county detention facility and kill the special agents and police officers. Senior Special Agent Joe Smith, the case agent for that operation, knows that he and his team made the streets of Chicago safer.

Expanding the Effort

The nationwide results of "Operation Talon," have been phenomenal. Recent statistics show that authorities have made nearly 6,000 arrests under this program, and the fugitives were wanted for more than food stamp fraud.

40 were wanted for murder or attempted murder;
25 were wanted for child molestation;
14 were wanted for rape or attempted rape;
10 were wanted for kidnapping; and
More than 2,000 were wanted for assault, robbery, and drug offenses.





Arrests of fugitive felons wanted for state and local crimes continues, but USDA's "Operation Talon" is expanding its activities to include arrests of fugitives wanted for violations of Federal laws. In fact, the U.S. Marshals Service has joined the partnership to help identify and locate Federal fugitives.

Partnerships Produce Award-Winning Results

On March 27, 2000, USDA's OIG - - the Federal employees behind "Operation Talon" - - received Vice President Gore's Hammer Award for its substantial achievements in creating a government that works better, costs less, and gets results Americans care about. "Operation Talon," and other initiatives like it, are part of the reason streets and neighborhoods all over the country are safer today than they were just a few years ago.

"Today, some of the country's most violent criminals are back behind bars where they belong, thanks to 'Operation Talon,'" said Vice President Gore. "The National Food Stamp Program is designed to help decent, law-abiding citizens get back on their feet during times of need, not to help murderers and rapists stay on the streets."

"Operation Talon" began as part of USDA's on-going efforts to ensure integrity in the Food Stamp Program, said USDA Secretary Dan Glickman. But, it has become much more.

"The cooperation among Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, along with state social services agencies, [has been] tremendous," said USDA Inspector General Roger Viadero. We have had great success in apprehending fugitives from justice as a result of these [food stamp/fugitive] matches. This is a prime example of the results that can emerge when agencies at all levels combine forces to reach a common goal."

For more information about "Operation Talon," contact USDA Public Affairs Specialist Sharon J. Friend at (202) 720-6915.



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